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Earthquakes Increasing Across Middle America Because Of Fracking?

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posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 03:50 PM
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In an article posted on April 6 on The Atlantic magazine's website, author Alexis Madrigal cites a significant increase in earthquake activity (of 3.0 or more) across a massive area of the United States. He supports the argument that this increase is attributable to human activity, specifically fracking. Madrigal's chief source is a scientific paper being presented later this month at the Seismology Society of America.



In some regions, the increase in earthquakes is even greater than six fold. For example, in Oklahoma over the past half-century, there were an average of 1.2 quakes of greater than 3.0 magnitude per year. Since 2009, there have been more than 25 per year. "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," the scientists write. The conclusion that at least one environmental group has drawn from this data is that fracking, in one way or another, has caused these earthquakes. The Environmental Working Group notes that more than 400,000 wells were drilled between 2001 and 2010, a 65% increase over the previous ten-year period. They also note that the new extraction techniques require vast amounts of water to be injected into the ground: major producer Chesapeake estimates that it uses about 5 million gallons of water per well. Lots of wells plus lots of water injected underground could change the subterranean conditions and lead to more earthquakes.


The abstract of the paper indicates that "The acceleration in activity that began in 2009 appears to involve a combination of source regions of oil and gas production."

However,



The USGS scientists aren't willing to draw the causal connection between fracking and earthquakes. "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," they conclude.




posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 04:01 PM
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reply to post by Hadrian
 



Don't forget to add the water that you can light on fire. Some states have water that lights on fire when you put a lighter next to a running faucet. mmmm, nummy water.




posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 04:24 PM
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reply to post by Hadrian
 


What a coincidence. USGS scientist Jim Berkland and I discussed this very thing in detail on today's The Truth Is Viral (ATS Thread). He's convinced that fracking is the cause.



posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 04:36 PM
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It does make sense that breaking up bedrock a mile or so below ground could cause earthquakes. They are making the ground unstable in order to reach a clean fuel source. It's time we started putting solar panels on homes. Check that, we should have done this years ago!



posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 04:39 PM
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I think fracking and the earthquake connection is the dirty little secret the energy companies are trying desperately to keep a lid on.
I'm still convinced the earthquake in Virginia and felt in D.C was related to fracking.



posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 04:59 PM
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I am sure some of it is fracking. The quake patterns in Arkansas and Ohio among other places really leave little doubt in my mind that is if isn't cause and effect then it's sure suggested strongly enough to stop activity until more can be learned and confirmed one way or the other.

I'd note another possibility though and one may cover for the other as I've started to suspect. In watching the quake series, they don't always follow where they should for fracking. Sometimes far off...sometimes just far enough o to make ya wonder. Always in the same mag ranges and depths though. I've seen that pattern before....Skull Mountain Nevada and USGS records. That's where I've seen it before.

Members may recall that name because half the pics of the giant excavators the Air Force used/uses there are in the public domain before they went into the mountain and started whatever it is they do. A large number of those pics are here at ATS. What stands out though.... 3-4 mag quakes and in a tight circle beneath and immediately around Skull Mountain. Dig-quakes...as I've come to think of them.

Fracking is part of it...but deep digging and tunneling is the other I'm coming to strongly suspect as a cause. Digging or tunneling for what exactly... Dunno.... But these 3-4's at the consistent depths where they shouldn't be...seem to be like a neon sign with a signature.

edit on 7-4-2012 by Wrabbit2000 because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 06:10 PM
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Originally posted by Feltrick
It does make sense that breaking up bedrock a mile or so below ground could cause earthquakes. They are making the ground unstable in order to reach a clean fuel source. It's time we started putting solar panels on homes. Check that, we should have done this years ago!


Well, there could be the "breaking up bedrock" issue, but there's also the influx of water that seems to be alarming, though I'm no expert. If the number of wells drilled stays the same and the amount of water pumped into the ground with the new techniques persists, in roughly a decade, we're looking at somewhere around this much water being pumped into the ground ... (let me go copy this from the calculator): 2,000,000,000,000!

That's two trillion gallons. Seems like a shockingly large amount of water even when I consider how large some of the underground water cavities must be.



posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 06:14 PM
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reply to post by Hadrian
 


I'm pretty sure it's mostly ground water being pumped back into the ground. So while I'm sure it has consequences, its not like it water being taken from the air and injected into the ground.



posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 06:28 PM
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though i agree that fracking is indeed a direct cause to many of the quakes that are happening,
Jimbo is not a reliable source,



posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 06:35 PM
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At what point do they decide to do some real investigations, and if there is any possibility that fracking is causing these Earthquakes, they should end the process until they know more.

This is messing with things way too big to take further risk.



posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 06:43 PM
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Originally posted by stanguilles7
reply to post by Hadrian
 


I'm pretty sure it's mostly ground water being pumped back into the ground. So while I'm sure it has consequences, its not like it water being taken from the air and injected into the ground.


Yeah, could be. I considered that, but the fact is, I assume, the water is coming out and being pumped in. Whether the water originated underground and returns to a different location underground, whether it's new water being added to a new location or whether it's just naturally-residing water being temporarily displaced, it's still a massive quantity. If this was only all about simple water displacement, I would still think there would be an issue. I'm not so sure the faith is universal that guiding the flow of water both out or back in is an art we've mastered.



posted on Apr, 8 2012 @ 01:43 AM
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Okey dokey,

I sincerly doubt that fracking is the cause of the increased earthquakes. Let me explain:

Fracking; the process of pumping high pressure, water based mud into a well in order to stimulate fracturing for increased oil flow, does not have the ability to create faults. That being said it does have the ability to reactivate dormant faults if they haven't siezed to a certain extent.

If a fault is reactivated it won't slip, causing an earthquake, unless there is sufficient stress being carried across the fault. The midwest, which is the focus for many of these alleged "man made quakes" carries very little techtonic stress. That is the reason there are few large mountain ranges there. In oklahoma especially the small mountain ranges that are there are no longer techtonically evovling (and are EXTREMELY OLD). Much of the stress carried across faults has beend dissipated since the mountain building phase ended.

The paper in question shows that earthquakes have increased ~25 fold in the last year which sounds staggering by itself. BUT, the timescales that are being talked about are very short. A century is less than the blink of an eye in geologic time. There are many other factors that could cause the quakes other than fracking. East west extension in the area could have increased, subsidence could be occoring due to depletion of the underlying aquifers.

Also, the water catching on fire has been reported since the 1800s in certain parts of the country. This shocking phenomenon is caused by natural seepage of gas from NATURAL fractures into the ground water. The fractures caused by fracking only propagate a few hundred feet out at most. Natural fractures can propagate miles up into the ground water.

Sorry if some of the spelling is off. I've gone a while without sleep.



posted on Apr, 8 2012 @ 01:19 PM
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Originally posted by noodlewrangler
If a fault is reactivated it won't slip, causing an earthquake, unless there is sufficient stress being carried across the fault. The midwest, which is the focus for many of these alleged "man made quakes" carries very little techtonic stress. That is the reason there are few large mountain ranges there.


Hi NW. Thanks for the comments ... very informative. I wonder if some people's concerns over this are less about highly-stressed faults being triggered and causing a singular massive earthquake than the unknown ramifications of displacing massive quantities of earth and water in and out of the ground and the potential instability that may or may not have geological affects.


Originally posted by noodlewrangler
The paper in question shows that earthquakes have increased ~25 fold in the last year which sounds staggering by itself. BUT, the timescales that are being talked about are very short. A century is less than the blink of an eye in geologic time. There are many other factors that could cause the quakes other than fracking. East west extension in the area could have increased, subsidence could be occoring due to depletion of the underlying aquifers.


Well, there's a lot to be determined, I suppose (and I'm neither pro or con this group of scientists nor their research), especially as they have yet to formally present their findings. However, they indicate strong evidence linking the seismic activity increase to deep waste water injection wells. I think the short span of geological time involved is expressly part of the concern.

From the paper's abstract; "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."


Originally posted by noodlewrangler
Also, the water catching on fire has been reported since the 1800s in certain parts of the country. This shocking phenomenon is caused by natural seepage of gas from NATURAL fractures into the ground water. The fractures caused by fracking only propagate a few hundred feet out at most. Natural fractures can propagate miles up into the ground water.


This is interesting. Though the connection between "burning rivers" and fracking is very new, it's true there have been instances of rivers catching on fire for over a hundred years. The infamous Cuyahoga River, for example, was catching fire in the 1800s. However, I believe it is well documented that, even then, this phenomenon was very clearly the result of pollution and not any seepage of natural gas. Yes, factories and industrial dumping were alive and well in the 1800s, as well as in contemporary times.



posted on Apr, 8 2012 @ 01:26 PM
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By the way, here is a map showing the area of the country which is experiencing an increase in seismic activity:




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