Earthquake 'swarm' rattles Arkansas town and its residents

December 14, 2010 (CNN). The Arkansas Geological Survey is trying to unravel a mystery: What is causing earthquakes in the town of Guy, Arkansas?

Ausbrooks says the state Geological Survey has no idea whether the current swarm is a natural or man-made event, but his office is seriously exploring the latter. "We see no relation to the drilling in the area, but we haven't ruled out a connection to the salt water disposal wells," he said.

According to the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission, there are at least a half dozen "disposal wells" within a 500-square-mile zone around Guy. Licensed by the state of Arkansas, disposal wells are a byproduct of the oil and gas industry and are used to inject drilling waste water back into the earth after drilling.

Last week the state of Arkansas issued a moratorium on new drilling permits. Lawrence Bengal, director of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission, said previously his office required only monthly reports outlining the operations of injection wells.

"We're asking well operators to provide daily reports now," Benegal said.

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