Two gas drilling companies have agreed to suspend specific operations at wells near Arkansas after their work was linked to nearby earthquakes.
Both Chesapeake Energy, based in Oklahoma, and Clarita Operating of Little Rock, informed the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission that they have halted operation of the wells near Greenbrier and Guy.
Arkansas geologists are continuing their search for answers and the drilling companies have stopped their work pending the AOGC panel's next regular meeting on March 29.
On Friday AOGC voted unanimously to order the two companies to halt their drilling - and they did not object. Both of the wells are directly in the seismic hot spot of hundreds of recent quakes.
The commission believes that it is highly likely there is a link between the wells and the earthquakes.
Some 800 earthquakes have hit the area in the past six months and a magnitude 4.7 quake – the strongest in Arkansas in 35 years – struck yesterday.
Local resident Linda Winfrey told ozarksfirst.com: 'I'm just so stressed with the whole thing, it's just been an ordeal for everyone.'
Another resident, Chad Rozanski, added: 'It's definitely a step in the right direction but much more needs to be done.'
A Chesapeake spokesman said: 'We do not agree with the conclusions. We believe there is a lot of natural seismicity in this area and there's a lot more data, facts and science that need to be brought to bear.
'And we look forward to a more thorough evaluation of all of that.'
The work at the high-pressure wells, which are used to dispose of waste water from natural gas drilling, will be halted for the time but Chesapeake and Clarita plan to fight more permanent actions at the meeting later in the month.
At the end of last year, the AOGC imposed a temporary ban on new permits for disposal wells. The following month, the board extended the moratorium until July 28th, pending an investigation.