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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Report: fracking causes earthquakes

Raw Story:

A study published Tuesday in the scientific journal Geology links the magnitude 5.6 earthquake that hit Oklahoma in November 2011 to natural gas drilling operations nearby that were using an extraction technique called fracking, which requires massive quantities of wastewater be injected into underground reservoirs.

The quake struck between Tulsa and Oklahoma City just before 11 p.m. on Sunday, November 6, 2011, causing serious damage to homes and even buckling a highway. Tremors were reportedly felt in 17 states — as far away as Illinois — and dozens of subsequent aftershocks kept Oklahomans up all night.

Researchers at the University of Oklahoma and Columbia University noticed that the quake was one of five greater than magnitude 5.0 that occurred in the continental interior of the U.S. in 2011. Studying the aftershocks of the Oklahoma quake, they discovered that the rupture plane of the quake, or the site where the tension built up and then violently shifted, was within 200 meters of fracking injection sites and nearly one meter from the surface.

Interestingly, the study’s findings show that while most seismic activity linked to newly installed fracking wells is minor, tension between fault planes can build for years, resulting in unexpected interactions with wastewater sites.

In this case, researchers said 18 years worth of fluid injection in sealed oil wells “lowered effective stress on reservoir-bounding faults,” causing several fault planes to give way in sequence after the initial quake hit, which is why the quake was so substantial.

“Massive earthquake” is a tad bit hyperbolic, but “dangerous” would definitely have fit. Global warming, flammable tapwater, earthquakes… Are we really this desperate for natural gas? After all, there isn’t actually a shortage. Basically, the reason that the fracking industry exists is so that the fracking industry can exist. It’s not something we actually need to do. It’s just a form of specialized drilling to avoid competition with the standard method.

I say we just knock it off altogether. Seriously, when you’re causing earthquakes, it’s just a stupid thing to do.

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