YOUNGSTOWN - The second earthquake to hit the area in eight days was the largest on record in Mahoning County.
The 4.0 magnitude earthquake at 3:04 p.m. is the 11th of a 2.0 magnitude or greater to shake the county since March 17.
The Ohio Geological Survey placed the epicenter of Saturday's earthquake about a tenth of a mile from brine injection well just off Ohio Works Drive on the property of D&L Energy Systems.
John Leach, 51, of Division Street in Youngstown, points to a crack in the side of his house that he says was put there by recent earthquakes. Leach said his new roof is also leaking and Saturday’s earthquake ruined an irreplaceable picture that hung on his wall. Photo by Dan Pompili
Many blame the series of minor earthquakes on brine injection wells. The brine wastewater comes from drilling operations that use the so-called fracking process to extract natural gas from underground shale.
But Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Jim Zehringer said during a news teleconference that fracking is not causing the quakes.
"The seismic events are not a direct result of fracking," he said.
Environmentalists and property owners who live near gas drilling wells have questioned the safety of fracking to the environment and public health. Federal regulators have declared the technology safe, however.
The Ohio Works Drive well as shut down Friday to study any possible connection. Zehringer and Gov. Kasich's office said Saturday that four other injection wells within a five-mile radius that shuttered well also will be closed while further scientific research is conducted.
Saturday's quake was felt as far away as Ontario, Canada, and Raleigh, N.C., according to United States Geological Survey reports. Locally, only minor damages and no injuries were reported. A chimney in McDonald is reported to partially crumbled.
Within minutes of the strike, calls began flooding area police stations and newsrooms. Residents report hearing a "boom" followed by anywhere from a few seconds to more than two minutes of shaking.
"It was a loud boom and then everything shook for a minute," said Tom Reynolds, 34, of Division Street.
Division Street runs perpendicular to Ohio Works Drive, and for residents like Reynolds, there is no question: "It's from all that (stuff) down the street there, that fracking and (stuff).''
In a Tribune Chronicle article published Saturday, ODNR representatives noted that quakes above a 4 magnitude are known to cause surface damage. Saturday's 4.0 quake ran more than 3 miles deep.
State Rep. Bob Hagan took the earthquake as an indication that natural gas drilling processes need to be placed on hold across the state until further study can be completed. He said he worked with State Rep. Sean O'Brien to petition Gov. John Kasich's office to issue the moratorium on drilling.
"If they're going to make millions and millions of dollars, they're going to do it right, as far as I'm concerned," Hagan said.