Can fracking cause earthquakes in California?

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The Lost Hills oil field in the California’s San Joaquin Valley. Photo by Richard Masoner via Flickr/CC.

The Lost Hills oil field in the California’s San Joaquin Valley. Photo by Richard Masoner via Flickr/CC.

Could yesterday’s “Shamrock Shake” have been triggered by fracking?

That’s what three L.A. City Council members want to know.

Councilmen Paul Koretz, Mike Bonin and Bernard Parks today called on city staff to investigate whether oil and natural gas drilling methods helped trigger the magnitude-4.4 earthquake.

The motion calls for collaboration between local and state energy officials and the U.S. Geological Survey to look into whether a link exists between fracking and the temblor.

USGS officials said there has been a dramatic rise in recent years of “noticeable earthquakes” in some parts of the U.S., and that some were caused by activities related to fracking.

The City Council last month ordered a halt to fracking and several other drilling methods that some oil companies might be using in and around Los Angeles.

KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis spoke with Art McGarr, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey, about the connection between oil drilling and seismic activity.