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2011: ‘Year of the Earthquakes’ in Mahoning Co.



Published: Sat, December 31, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

See Also: Magnitude-4.0 earthquake shakes Valley

By Karl Henkel

khenkel@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The year 2011 — at least in the short term — will be known as “Year of the Earthquakes” in Mahoning County.

That isn’t too dubious a distinction, considering an earthquake with an epicenter in the county had never occurred before St. Patrick’s Day this year.

Each earthquake was more surprising than the previous, but nine months after the first shake, there still are many unanswered questions and revised quake information.

The Vindicator wraps up and clarifies the rumblings that sent shock waves through the Valley in 2011.

Jury still out

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has found no conclusive link between the earthquakes and the D&L Energy Inc. brine-injection well on Ohio Works Drive in Youngstown, but on Friday ordered the well to cease operations until the bottom 250 feet of the well is plugged, to ensure no brine water is entering the nearly impermeable Precambrian formation and to “eliminate any perceived [earthquake] accusations.”

The well accepts fluids from fracking, a process that extracts natural gas and oil from deep under the ground.

“This is a very freak incident. This is the first of its kind,” said Ben Lupo, D&L owner and CEO. “We don’t know.”

And then there were 10

ODNR officially recognizes 10 earthquakes with epicenters in the county.

The 10th was actually the first — a magnitude 2.1 foreshock that happened 11 minutes before the first recorded quake.

It’s another case of revisionist history, but let the record speak for itself: 2011 provided Mahoning County with not one, but 10 earthquakes.

No earthquake in Hubbard

Initial reports on Oct. 20 plotted a magnitude 2.3 earthquake near Bell Wick Avenue and state Route 304 in Hubbard.

Instead, that earthquake’s location is now plotted near Mahoning Avenue and South Belle Vista Avenue on Youngstown’s West Side, closer to the injection well site.

Michael Hansen of the Ohio Seismic Network said seismologists often revise earthquake magnitudes and locations days, weeks and sometimes months after the initial shock.

“We come up with preliminary locations on the data that we can get,” Hansen said. “We have to do a quick and dirty one to get something out quickly.”

Magnitudes change

The Christmas Eve magnitude 2.4 quake near U.S. Route 422 and Gypsy Lane sent a shock wave through social media.

Many residents arose from deep sleeps to share their experiences.

And as it turns out, the quake was stronger than first reported.

Hansen said by the time all data are collected, the shake likely will have a magnitude of about 2.6.

Shaky feeling

Scores of Youngstown and Girard residents have reported a shaky feeling near the time of the earthquake events.

That includes Harry Meshel, former state senator, who said that after the Dec. 24 shake, “I felt something, and it was as though my bed was an elevator and the elevator was falling from beneath me.”

Meshel said the movement slightly bent a cabinet door in his basement.

“That to me is pretty serious news,” he said of the shaking feeling.


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