GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – Experts are looking at the latest in a string of earthquakes to rattle an area near Greeley with questions about whether it’s related to oil and gas operations.

This latest earthquake happened at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Monday. It was a magnitude 2.6 and centered about 3 miles beneath the surface.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The U.S. Geological Survey in Golden says it’s not an area where there are typically earthquakes. There have been water injection operations in the area in which the oil and gas industry injects water deep underground like the water that comes back to the surface during hydraulic fracturing operations.

There have been five earthquakes since the end of May – Monday’s, a weaker one Sunday, another last week, and two on the same day in late May; including the biggest — a magnitude 3.2.

Experts say it’s too early to tell if the quakes are related to the water injection, but they’re looking at it very closely. They’ve installed new monitoring stations in the area to gather more data.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) announced on Tuesday that they have directed High Sierra Water Services to stop disposing wastewater into one of its Weld County injection wells.

The company immediately agreed to shut down operations at the well located east of the Greeley-Weld County Airport.

“Ongoing monitoring by a team of University of Colorado seismologists has picked up additional evidence of low-level seismic activity near the injection site,” the COGCC said in a statement.

Additional Information From COGCC

The COGCC will undertake several actions over the shutdown period to include: evaluation of baseline, historical seismic activity; continued coordination with the CU team; coordination with the U.S. Geological Survey and Colorado Geological Survey; evaluation of other disposal wells in the area; and a detailed review of data associated with the well in question, including further examination of injection rates, pressures and volumes.

A history and overview of underground injection wells and seismicity in Colorado is available at the COGCC’s website under the LIBRARY tab on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to “Underground Injection Control and Seismicity.” 

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