Mistrust and earthquakes: why Lancashire communities are so shaken by fracking tremors

Anna Szolucha

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Abstract

After a month of tranquillity, fracking has resumed at the Preston New Road site near Blackpool triggering the biggest tremor to date.

There have been 12 tremors over a four-day period, including the biggest so far – the 1.5 magnitude quake. In total, 36 earthquakes were recorded in the area between the middle of October and early November. Most of these are too weak to be felt at the surface, but can be measured using seismometers. These are instruments that measure ground motions, caused by such events as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, among other factors.

Local residents are concerned the earthquakes may cause cracks in the fracking well’s casing, which could potentially lead to contamination issues. Some scientists claim the impact of these seismic events at surface is equivalent to dropping a melon onto the floor. But government officials and those in the fracking industry have dismissed the tremors – suggesting they are inconsequential.

As a social scientist living in Lancashire, I have been researching the social impacts of shale gas developments since 2015. From what I have seen, there is much more to the tremors than just ground movements. The impact of the quakes that occurred far below ground reverberated strongly throughout the community living on the surface. To understand why this is the case it is important to understand local people’s experiences of shale gas exploration in the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2018

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