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Scientists convinced of tie between earthquakes and drilling

fracking causes earthquakesWith the evidence coming in from one study after another, scientists are now more certain than ever that oil and gas drilling is causing hundreds upon hundreds of earthquakes across the U.S.

So far, the quakes have been mostly small and have done little damage beyond cracking plaster, toppling bricks and rattling nerves. But seismologists warn that the shaking can dramatically increase the chances of bigger, more dangerous quakes.

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Fracking Increases Quakes in 8 States

fracking earthquakesSignificant strides in science have been made to better understand potential ground shaking from induced earthquakes, which are earthquakes triggered by man-made practices.

Earthquake activity has sharply increased since 2009 in the central and eastern United States. The increase has been linked to industrial operations that dispose of wastewater by injecting it into deep wells.

The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report today that outlines a preliminary set of models to forecast how hazardous ground shaking could be in the areas where sharp increases in seismicity have been recorded. The models ultimately aim to calculate how often earthquakes are expected to occur in the next year and how hard the ground will likely shake as a result. This report looked at the central and eastern United States; future research will incorporate data from the western states as well.

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Earth Day 2015: Our Favorite Photos of the Planet

Earth day 2015Today, people around the world will celebrate the 45th Earth Day, an annual event designed to pay tribute to the environment and promote ways to protect our home planet. More than 1 billion people worldwide are expected to take part in Earth Day this year, with activities that include environmental rallies, tree planting and other service projects.

At Live Science, we write about planet Earth every day, so to mark the occasion, we'd like to share some of our favorite photos of this beautiful world. Check out the images that symbolize Earth Day to us, and why we think they're significant.

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Oklahoma goes from two 3.0 quakes a year to two a day

Oklahoma earthquakesIn November of 2011, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake ripped through the small Oklahoma town of Prague, damaging more than a dozen homes and toppling a turret on a St. Gregory's University building in nearby Shawnee.

In November of 2011, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake ripped through the small Oklahoma town of Prague, damaging more than a dozen homes and toppling a turret on a St. Gregory's University building in nearby Shawnee.

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Study Links Texas Earthquake Swarm to Natural Gas Drilling

Texaas fracking linked to earthquakesWith real-time monitors, scientists have linked a swarm of small earthquakes west of Fort Worth, Texas, to nearby natural gas wells and wastewater injection.

"It's what we figured all along, it's not really new news to us," said Azle Mayor Alan Brundrett, "It's just confirming our suspicious that we've had."

In 84 days from November 2013 to January 2014, the area around Azle, Texas, shook with 27 magnitude 2 or greater earthquakes, while scientists at Southern Methodist University and the U.S. Geological Survey monitored the shaking. It's an area that had no recorded quakes for 150 years on faults that "have been inactive for hundreds of millions of years," said SMU geophysicist Matthew Hornbach.

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Last month hottest March in modern history

hottest month  The U.S. government reports that last month's global climate made it the hottest March in modern history.

Average temperatures across the world's surface (land and sea) were 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 20th century average of 54.9 F, according to a report, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Fracking: Texas bill limiting bans on energy companies moves forward

Fracking bill in TexasA bill supported by energy companies that prevents cities and counties from banning the practice of fracking on their land has been passed by the first tier of state legislators in Texas and is on course to become law.

The proposed law would stop municipalities and other local authorities from enacting their own bans on the practice of hydraulic fracturing and drilling for crude oil and natural gas. The state would have the power to override any such efforts and give gas and oil companies the access they desire to extract resources, against the wishes of voters and politicians at local level if necessary.

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