NEW INFO: Focus on Central West Virginia After Recent Earthquakes

By: Brad Myers; Associated Press Email
By: Brad Myers; Associated Press Email
While geologists agree that the number of recent earthquakes are unusual for West Virginia, they say the majority of those earthquakes happened in one particular part of the state that

Swarm of earthquakes beneath Sun Valley.

UPDATE 9/14/10 @ 9:45 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Some folks in Lincoln County may have had a bit of a shaky feeling Monday.

That's because a small earthquake hit the area near Harts. That earthquake pushed the total number of quakes to double digits for the year in West Virginia.

While geologists agree that's unusual for the state, they say the majority of those earthquakes happened in one particular part of West Virginia that's being watched very closely.

Monday's earthquake in Lincoln County marked the 10th in West Virginia so far this year. But it's in Braxton County in central West Virginia where experts are taking a deeper look after at least four quakes shook the earth earlier this year.

For geologists like Dr. Ronald Martino, professor of geology at Marshall University, the recent activity below ground definitely means something is up.

"If we have an area that normally is pretty quiet and then, all of the sudden, get a few in same area -- that is a sort of a warning that something is going on," Martino said.

Some in Braxton County point to Chesapeake Energy's disposal of drilling fluid into an injection well in Frametown as the source for the recent quakes. It's a claim Martino says is possible, although more data is needed for a full confirmation.

"We do know it's possible that man can cause earthquakes by injecting fluid into the ground," he said.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is now working with Chesapeake Energy to find out what connect -- if any-- the injection well has with the recent earthquakes in the area.

Chesapeake Energy has released a statement. The company says, "Twenty-five earthquakes have been reported within 100 miles of the recent seismicity since the year 2000, including a magnitude 2.5 event that occurred in Braxton County on Oct. 16, 2000. Our saltwater disposal well near Frametown has been accepting fluids from natural gas activities.

"And we are working cooperatively with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to better understand the location and timing of the recent minor seismic activity."

West Virginia DEP spokeswoman Kathy Cosco says her organization is now working to find out the integrity of Chesapeake Energy's well after those earthquakes.

ORIGINAL STORY 9/14/10 @ 9:30 a.m.
HAMLIN, W.Va. (AP) -- Another minor earthquake has been reported
in West Virginia.

The U.S. Geological Survey's website shows that a 2.3-magnitude
earthquake occurred at 11:08 a.m. Monday in Lincoln County.

The epicenter was 9 miles south-southeast of Hamlin and 25 miles
west-southwest of Charleston.

There were no reports of injuries or damage.

At least 10 minor earthquakes have occurred around the state
this year, mainly in central West Virginia.

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