Author Topic: Scientists: Increase In US Earthquakes Almost Certainly Manmade  (Read 2868 times)

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Offline Dok

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Scientists: Increase In US Earthquakes Almost Certainly Manmade

A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) team has found that a sharp jump in earthquakes in America’s heartland appears to be linked to oil and natural gas drilling operations.

As hydraulic fracturing has exploded onto the scene, it has increasingly been connected to earthquakes. Some quakes may be caused by the original fracking — that is, by injecting a fluid mixture into the earth to release natural gas (or oil). More appear to be caused by reinjecting the resulting brine deep underground.

Last August, a USGS report examined a cluster of earthquakes in Oklahoma and reported:

    Our analysis showed that shortly after hydraulic fracturing began small earthquakes started occurring, and more than 50 were identified, of which 43 were large enough to be located. Most of these earthquakes occurred within a 24 hour period after hydraulic fracturing operations had ceased.

In November, a British shale gas developer found it was “highly probable” its fracturing operations caused minor quakes.

Then last month, Ohio oil and gas regulators said “A dozen earthquakes in northeastern Ohio were almost certainly induced by injection of gas-drilling wastewater into the earth.”

Now, in a paper to be deliver at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America, the USGS notes that “a remarkable increase in the rate of [magnitude 3.0] and greater earthquakes is currently in progress” in the U.S. midcontinent. The abstract is online. EnergyWire reports (subs. req’d) some of the findings:

    The study found that the frequency of earthquakes started rising in 2001 across a broad swath of the country between Alabama and Montana. In 2009, there were 50 earthquakes greater than magnitude-3.0, the abstract states, then 87 quakes in 2010. The 134 earthquakes in the zone last year is a sixfold increase over 20th century levels.

    The surge in the last few years corresponds to a nationwide surge in shale drilling, which requires disposal of millions of gallons of wastewater for each well. According to the federal Energy Information Administration, shale gas production grew, on average, nearly 50 percent a year from 2006 to 2010.

The USGS scientists point out that ”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.” They conclude:

    While the seismicity rate changes described here are almost certainly manmade, it remains to be determined how they are related to either changes in extraction methodologies or the rate of oil and gas production.

EnergyWire points out, “all of the potential causes they explore in the paper relate to drilling, or more specifically, deep underground injection of drilling waste.”

Last year, the Department of Energy set up a committee to examine the full range of environmental impacts of fracking.  I testified to the members and, in addition to raising the issue about methane leakage and global warming, brought up the issue of earthquakes.

The committee said that they were indeed aware of this issue and ultimately the seven-member panel released a report of environmental guidelines for the natural gas industry, which included call on more research on “Understanding induced seismicity triggered by hydraulic fracturing and injection well disposal.”

It’s time go beyond mere research and start developing national standards to minimize these earthquakes.

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Offline KiwiClare

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Re: Scientists: Increase In US Earthquakes Almost Certainly Manmade
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2012, 07:10:27 pm »
Thanks for the post.

New Geothermal Experiment at Dormant Volcano in Oregon Expected to Cause Earthquakes
“PRINEVILLE, Ore. — Newberry Crater south of Bend soon could become a bit more active, now that the BLM has approved a closely watched geothermal test project.

“There is potential of small seismic events,” said BLM spokeswoman Lisa Clark said Monday. “We feel that people in the area might feel a little rumbling, but it will probably feel like a piece of heavy equipment driving by.”

Davenport-Newberry Holdings and AltaRock plan to test a new technology, Engineered Geothermal Systems.

The companies say they plan to use and existing geothermal well on the western side of the volcano.

The companies also plan to use a process called hydro-shearing, where they pump water 6,000-10,000 feet below the surface of the Earth.

Unlike fracking, a controversial process where rock is cracked open by high water pressure, the two companies say they plan to use existing cracks and widen them slightly, using far less pressure than the one used to extract natural gas from underground.

“We’re doing a process called hydro-shearing,” said Clark, “We will inject water into existing fractures and just use that water to widen them a little bit, it is definitely a different process.”

BLM said the plans are just for a temporary test site over the next two years.

“At this point, it is a test site,” said Clark, “However, it could be used as a model for other sites around the country, or perhaps even future opportunities in the Newberry area.”"
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Offline iROBOTi

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Re: Scientists: Increase In US Earthquakes Almost Certainly Manmade
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2015, 05:37:37 pm »
4th straight day of earthquakes in Connecticut