COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – State geologists in Ohio believe they have for the first time linked earthquake activity in the Utica shale to hydraulic fracturing, and the state says it is issuing new permit conditions in seismic-sensitive areas.

State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers told The Associated Press on Friday that a state investigation of five small tremors in the Youngstown area last month has found a probable link.

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He said Ohio is setting new permitting conditions in earthquake-sensitive areas and has halted drilling indefinitely at the site of the March quakes.

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A seismologist with the U.S. Department of Interior says it’s the first time a link has been drawn between seismic activity and fracking taking place in the Marcellus-Utica shale across the northeastern United States.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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