Does Geothermal Power Cause Earthquakes?

interns Contributor
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On December 8, 2006, Markus Häring caused some 30 earthquakes — the largest registering 3.4 on the Richter scale — in Basel, Switzerland. Häring is not a supervillain. He’s a geologist, and he had nothing but good intentions when he injected high-pressure water into rocks three miles below the surface, attempting to generate electricity through a process called enhanced geothermal. But he produced earthquakes instead, and when seismic analysis confirmed that the quakes were centered near the drilling site, city officials charged him with $9 million worth of damage to buildings.

Häring was acquitted last December — it was ruled that he had not intentionally created the tremors — but his project was nixed for good late last year following a scientific review that calculated a 15 percent chance that further drilling could spur a major earthquake causing more than $500 million in damage. The debacle is bringing enhanced-geothermal projects here in the U.S. under new scrutiny.

Full story: Does Geothermal Power Cause Earthquakes?