Drilling Down

Small Earthquake Detected in Mahoning Township, Pa.

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A small earthquake that registered 1.9 on the Richter scale was detected in Lawrence County, Pa., early Monday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The epicenter of the tremor was 5.6 miles west of New Castle, Pa. in Mahoning Township, just west of Mohawk School Road and south of Miller Farm Road, the USGS reports.

The quake was recorded shortly after midnight.

In the past, seismic activity in the region has been tied to exploration of oil and gas in the Utica shale. In 2014, a hydraulic fracturing operation was shut down at a well pad in Poland Township just west Lawrence County after triggering a series of small tremors there.

In 2011, a wastewater injection well in Youngstown triggered a 4.0 magnitude quake on New Year’s Eve and was shut down immediately after.

Hilcorp Energy Co. told officials in November that it planned to drill on land near Mohawk High School beginning this summer at the Savaet well pad in nearby North Beaver Township, Pa. The proposed well pad is located about one-half mile north of the school, in the vicinity where the epicenter was recorded.

There is no evidence as of this posting that the quake Monday is tied to oil and gas exploration. The epicenter is also located near a quarry operation, which has been known to induce small tremors, according to the USGS website.

According to DEP records, nine permits for new horizontal wells were issued for the Savaet pad. There is no data on whether drilling on these wells has started, and none of the permitted wells are in production, according to DEP records.

Officials from North Beaver Township, Mahoning Township, the DEP and Lawrence County could not be reached for comment Monday.

Another well pad on the Buckner property sits about one mile north of the epicenter, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.