According to the report, gas-drilling and related activities can lead to human-induced earthquakes when those activities cause changes in fluid pressures or in underground stresses, especially in areas where there are geologic faults.
However, the report says even experts don't have enough information to reliably predict when this can happen.
"While the general mechanisms that created induced seismic events are well understood, we are currently unable to accurately predict the magnitude or occurrence of such events due to the lack of comprehensive data on complex natural rock systems and the lack of validated predictive models," the report said.
Also, the report said current regulations and practices don't necessarily go far enough.
For example, it said, some drilling-wastewater injection wells "normally do not have a detailed geologic review performed and often data are not available to make such a review.
"Thus, although fluid pressure in the injection zone and the fracturing pressure of the injection zone can be measured after the disposal well is drilled, the location of possible faults is often not known as part of standard well siting and drilling procedures," the report said.
The report urges closer monitoring and development of new guidelines, but says more drilling and related activities will have to be used to come up with such protocols.
"Practices that consider induced seismicity both before and during the actual operation of an energy project can be employed in the development of a 'best practices' protocol specific to each energy technology and site location," the report said.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.