UACES Facebook Link between quakes, oil and gas activities topic of webinar
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Link between quakes, oil and gas activities topic of webinar

By Dave Edmark
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Jan. 29, 2016

Fast facts:

  • More than 650 earthquakes of at least magnitude 3 occurred in central and eastern U.S. in 2014
  • Legal issues associated with earthquakes, landowners will be reviewed
  • Pifer is director of Penn State Center for Agricultural and Shale Law

(417 words)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Earthquakes across the central and eastern U.S. in recent years have prompted focus on the oil and gas industry’s activities in those areas. The legal issues associated with induced seismicity – earthquake activity resulting from human or artificial development – and its impact on landowners will be the topic of a webinar from 11 a.m. to noon Central time Feb. 17 sponsored by the National Agricultural Law Center at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 

Pifer’s presentation will review the seismic events that have been potentially induced by oil and gas activities and include a review of relevant scientific literature. There were 659 earthquakes with a magnitude of 3 or greater in the central and eastern states in 2014, compared to an annual average of 21 earthquakes before 2008. 

“Some of the evidence has pointed to the underground injection of waste fluids as being a cause of induced seismicity in some instances,” Pifer said. “More controversially, some research has questioned whether hydraulic fracturing itself has been the cause for isolated seismic events.” 

Pifer referred to studies showing that 98 percent of recent earthquakes in central Arkansas occurred within six kilometers of one of three waste disposal wells after the start of wastewater injection into the wells. The studies concluded that the activity in the wells induced the quakes. In 2014, Oklahoma experienced 608 earthquakes of at least magnitude 3, which a study said coincided with a doubling of the wastewater disposal rate in injection wells from 1999 to 2013. 

Pifer will discuss scientific literature covering wastewater injection wells and high-volume hydraulic fracking. He will review strategies and regulations adopted by different states to manage induced seismicity. Pifer will also cover legal advice for landowners entering into oil and gas leases and their rights in case of induced seismicity. 

Pifer, who earned an LL.M. degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law Agricultural and Food Law Program, has presented nationally and internationally on shale gas and agricultural law topics to audiences comprised of judges, attorneys, legislators, government officials, landowners, and the general public. 

This workshop is intended for educational purposes only and cannot be construed as legal advice. 

For more information on this and other issues, visit the National Agricultural Law Center at


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.  

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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