Study raises new concern about earthquakes and fracking fluids

Earthquake Fault Diagram - Courtesy USGS

Earthquake Fault Diagram – Courtesy USGS

Rockpick Commentary: It is important to point out that this study involves Underground Injection Control (UIC) wells where fracking fluids and produced water are disposed of regularly. This study is NOT about fracking fluids or the process of fracking a well. It is simply a study about the effects of propagated seismic energy from earthquakes at fluid disposal sites where the propagated energy may initiate a local release of stored energy (micro/tiny earthquake) at a UIC disposal site. This article uses language that implies that there are risks that are not at all proven or conjectured by this study. Don’t fall prey to the “Sky is Falling” media spin. Read in context the abstract of the actual study for yourself here : Enhanced Remote Earthquake Triggering at Fluid-Injection Sites in the Midwestern United States

Sharon Begley J NEW YORK (Reuters) – Powerful earthquakes thousands of miles away can trigger swarms of minor quakes near wastewater-injection wells like those used in oil and gas recovery, scientists reported on Thursday, sometimes followed months later by quakes big enough to destroy buildings. The discovery, published in the journal Science by one of the world’s leading seismology labs, threatens to make hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which involves injecting fluid deep underground, even more controversial. It comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducts a study of the effects of fracking, particularly the disposal of wastewater, which could form the basis of new regulations on oil and gas drilling. Geologists have known for 50 years that injecting fluid underground can increase pressure on seismic faults and make them more likely to slip. The result is an “induced” quake. A recent surge in U.S. oil and gas production – much of it using vast amounts of water to crack open rocks and release natural gas, as in fracking, or to bring up oil and gas from standard wells – has been linked to an increase in small to moderate induced earthquakes in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ohio, Texas and Colorado. Now seismologists at Columbia University say they have identified three quakes – in Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas – that were triggered at injection-well sites by major earthquakes a long distance away. “The fluids (in wastewater injection wells) are driving the faults to their tipping point,” said Nicholas van der Elst of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, who led the study. It was funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey. Fracking opponents’ main concern is that it will release toxic chemicals into water supplies, said John Armstrong, a spokesman for New Yorkers Against Fracking, an advocacy group. But “when you tell people the process is linked to earthquakes, the reaction is, ‘what? They’re doing something that can cause earthquakes?’ This really should be a stark warning,” he said. Fracking proponents reacted cautiously to the study.

Continue reading at Yahoo! News

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2 Responses to Study raises new concern about earthquakes and fracking fluids

  1. Pingback: Will Exporting Crude Hurt the Environment? We Asked What You Thought, and You Told Us - Canary

  2. jdrew005 says:

    While earthquakes can be a concern, it’s a far off and not that scary issue for most. The real issue with fracking is the policy of increasing more fossil fuel with this ill-conceived and destructive technique. The real issue is the leaks of CH4 (sorry, I’m an analytical chemist) and the resulting greenhouse gas global climate change it will cause. As well as the lying of the industry about the composition of the fracking fluids. According to Harvard, those who have “disclosed” the composition of these materials, they lie. Lie. Half the components aren’t even real compounds. They count on the scientific ignorance of the public to perpetrate their fraud.
    I’m not afraid of earthquakes. I’m afraid of what they’re doing to us.

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