UK baseline study on anthropogenic earthquakes


Induced Seismicity

ReFINE (Researching Fracking in Europe) – an independent research consortium focusing on the issue of shale gas and oil exploitation using fracking methods – has published a research paper titled "Anthropogenic earthquakes in the UK: A national baseline prior to shale exploitation". (Weblink)

This study reviews the distribution, timing and probable causes of ∼8000 onshore UK seismic events between the years 1970–2012. It provides a baseline for the UK, the first of its kind for any nation state, in advance of the presently planned shale gas and oil exploitation. Used along with other criteria, in the future it may help establish if fracking has become responsible for a nationwide increase in seismic activity. The review also may serve as a case study for other nation states considering the use of this technology or where it is already deployed.



  • At least ∼21% of local magnitudes (ML) ≥ 1.5 earthquakes between 1970 and 2012 in the UK were anthropogenic.
  • Since the 1980s the fall in anthropogenic earthquakes was due to the fall in UK coal production.
  • Since 1999 the UK averages three clear-cut cases of anthropogenic earthquakes (ML ≥ 1.5) per year.
  • Since 1999, including an error margin there are ≤12 anthropogenic earthquakes per year.



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UK baseline study on anthropogenic earthquakes