Fracking Tied to Unusual Rise in Earthquakes in U.S. (Please leave a comment.)

staarduster 2012/04/13 10:06:44

“A naturally-occurring rate change of this magnitude is unprecedented outside of volcanic settings or in the absence of a main shock, of which there were neither in this region,” Ellsworth and his colleagues wrote.

Let me emphasize there has been no damage, YET. This could be the calm before the storm. We need to be aware of what is going on around us, at least to some extent.

Fracking Tied to Unusual Rise in Earthquakes in U.S.

By Mark Drajem - Apr 12, 2012 3:32 PM ET

A spate of earthquakes across the middle of the U.S. is “almost certainly” man-made, and may be caused by wastewater from oil or gas drilling injected into the ground, U.S. government scientists said in a study.

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey said that for the three decades until 2000, seismic events in the nation’s midsection averaged 21 a year. They jumped to 50 in 2009, 87 in 2010 and 134 in 2011.

Oil Oklahoma

Oil Oklahoma

Earthquake Outbreak in Central U.S. Tied to Drilling Wastewater

Earthquake Outbreak in Central U.S. Tied to Drilling Wastewater

An energy plant along the southern San Andreas earthquake fault near Calipatria, California. In northern California, engineers are drilling to great depths to force water into bedrock, a process that causes slippage and small earthquakes. Photographer: David McNew/Getty Images

Those statistics, included in the abstract of a research paper to be discussed at the Seismological Society of America conference next week in San Diego, will add pressure on an energy industry already confronting more regulation of the process of hydraulic fracturing.

“Our scientists cite a series of examples for which an uptick in seismic activity is observed in areas where the disposal of wastewater through deep-well injection increased significantly,” David Hayes, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, said in a blog post yesterday, describing research by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey.

‘Fairly Small’ Quakes

The earthquakes were “fairly small,” and rarely caused damage, Hayes said.

He said not all wastewater disposal wells induce earthquakes, and there is no way of knowing if a disposal well will cause a temblor.

Last month, Ohio officials concluded that earthquakes there last year probably were caused by wastewater from hydraulic fracturing for natural gas injected into a disposal well.

In hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- water, sand and chemicals are injected into deep shale formations to break apart underground rock and free natural gas trapped deep underground. Much of that water comes back up to the surface and must then be disposed of.

There’s “a difference between disposal injection wells and hydraulically fractured wells,” Daniel Whitten, a spokesman for the America’s Natural Gas Alliance, which represents companies such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) and Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (COG), said in an e-mail. “There are over 140,000 disposal wells in America, with only a handful potentially linked to seismic activity.”

‘Committed to Monitoring’

“We are committed to monitoring the issue and working with authorities where there are concerns, but it should be noted that currently there is no scientific data associating hydraulic fracturing with earthquakes that would cause damage,” he said.

An abstract of the federal study, which was led by William Ellsworth, Earthquake Science Center staff director for the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, was published online earlier this month. A full version of the study wasn’t immediately available.

The area studied included a swath of the country running from Ohio to Colorado and Oklahoma, the study said.

“A naturally-occurring rate change of this magnitude is unprecedented outside of volcanic settings or in the absence of a main shock, of which there were neither in this region,” Ellsworth and his colleagues wrote.

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to release rules on air pollution from gas wells and on the treatment of wastewater. Other state and federal rules could force more disclosure of the chemicals used by the drilling companies.

The Interior Department is considering rules to update well-design standards and require disclosure of the chemicals in fracking on public lands.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Drajem in Washington at mdrajem@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net

Ad Astra, Scientia!

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  • sjalan 2012/04/16 06:58:10
    Far more likely the release of weight off of the Contintent of Greenland from the melting of the ice pack is a probable cause
  • Pat 2012/04/16 06:28:22
    Yes, I had heard this before. The fracking is not only polluting the water table it is actually cracking/shattering the crust of the earth. We are really bucking for trouble if we allow this to continue.
  • thecutesttentacle 2012/04/16 05:24:56
  • Pm 2012/04/13 17:02:47
    We have no way of knowing if this is an unusual trend. Humans haven't recorded earthquakes for enough years to make that claim.
  • santa6642 2012/04/13 13:28:37
    That possible is corect, we need to look into that and see if it passes the mustered.
  • wiskkers 2012/04/13 12:46:31
  • Maynard 2012/04/13 11:57:31
    The other day, the World had it's WORST DAY EVER when it comes to Earthquakes.

    39 of them over 5.0 in ONE DAY, I believe it's a record since RECORDS OF EARTHQUAKES BEGAN.

    Did YOU hear about it?

  • Maynard Maynard 2012/04/13 12:00:47
    FURTHERMORE, in the last seven days, only TWO have been in America.

    One was off the Coast of ARE-WE-GONE, it was a 5.9 and THEY DON'T FRACK THERE.

    The other was in the Alutians, SEA YA.

  • Jackie G - Poker Playing Pa... 2012/04/13 10:24:37
    Jackie G - Poker Playing Patriot
    Bull snot - I cause more earthquakes from burping than come from fracking - this is environut fear tactic not ground in one ounce of real scientific study by anyone who knows beans about fracking.
  • Mark 2012/04/13 10:08:07
    I cause a bigger shockwave when I jump out of bed
  • staarduster 2012/04/13 10:07:58
    More on the dangers of fracking. Read with care, your mind might just be expanded! lol

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