A possible answer for why earthquakes rock deep East Texas - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

A possible answer for why earthquakes rock deep East Texas

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TIMPSON (KYTX) -

We could be closer to an answer for why deep East Texas keeps having earthquakes. Researchers at the University of Texas in Austin say they've figured it out.

Despite widely held beliefs, they're not blaming fracking--at least not directly.

The researchers say the problem lies with how companies get rid of the fluids they use in the fracking process--at disposal sites where they pump used salt water underground.

The last time there was an earthquake in Timpson, September of 2013, the epicenter was near a disposal well along F.M. 1970. Even back then neighbors were blaming the waste water.

"It's all day long," Zina Wolf said as she and her grandson Tristan watch trucks come and go across the street Thursday. "I thought they had stopped bringing in salt water."

They live next to a disposal well for fracking fluids. Six months ago Zina told CBS 19 she was sure that was the problem.

"Well I already knew it," she said. "I'm glad somebody's looking into it, because I don't think it's fair."

A new study from the University of Texas indicates that Zina was right--because the fracking fluids are lubricating underground faults.

"I call it the air hockey model," Dr. Cliff Frohlich told KUT-FM's Terrance Henry. "If you put the puck on there, but the air is not on, the puck will just sit there because of friction. As soon as you turn on the air, the puck slides."

Frohlich said the quakes are happening at the same depth where fluids are being injected. And similar studies show it's happening in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Ohio.

Zina wants it to stop.

"There's always a reason," she said. "It has to be greed. They're getting paid."

A representative from the company that owns the disposal well near the Wolf's home contacted CBS 19 Thursday. He said he wants the company's side of the story to be heard. But he was not prepared to do an interview immediately.

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