Increasingly frequent earthquakes in the Permian Basin’s Delaware sub-basin are mostly linked to oil and gas activity, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin (UT).

Among the most prolific oil and gas producing regions in the Lower 48, the Delaware’s surface area covers about 6.4 million acres in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico. Earthquakes have been rising in the region since 2009 amid growth in directional drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

“This paper shows that we now know a lot about how oil and gas activities and seismic activity are connected,” said study co-author Alexandros Savvaidis, a researcher at the UT Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG). 

Researchers examined data that tracked seismicity...