Fearing fracking is the culprit, a mining company stopped drilling for shale gas in England after scientists said two small earthquakes might be the result of the controversial extracting process.
While not a huge tumbler, the British Geological Survey recorded a 1.5 magnitude quake Friday near Blackpool in northwest England, within 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) of the gas exploration site. A 2.3 magnitude quake occurred last month.
The two quakes appeared to have “a similar location and mechanism,” said geological survey’s head of seismology, Brian Baptie.
Cuadrilla Resources said it stopped hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — the process of extracting gas by pummeling rocks deep underground with high-pressure water, sand and chemicals — while it studied data from the quakes and consulted with experts.
“We expect that this analysis and subsequent consultation will take a number of weeks to conclude and we will decide on appropriate actions after that,” said Cuadrilla Chief Executive Mark Miller.
Shale gas extraction, pioneered by the U.S. and Canada, could boost global recoverable natural gas resources by 40 percent. But ecologists fear its environmental impact.