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Did Fracking Cause Recent Oklahoma Earthquakes?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the fracking-geological-facts dept.

Earth 288

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Oklahoma is typically seismically stable, with about 50 small quakes a year — but in 2009, that number jumped up to more than 1,000 and on November 5 a 5.6-magnitude tremor rattled Oklahoma — one of the strongest to ever hit the state — leading scientists to wonder if the increasingly common use of fracking, the controversial practice of blasting underground rock formations with high-pressure water, sand, and chemicals to extract natural gas, may have put stress on fault lines. Human intervention has caused earthquakes before with one 'textbook case' occurring in 1967 in India, says Peter Fairley at IEEE Spectrum, when the reservoir behind the hydroelectric Koyna Dam was filled up. The added water 'unleashed a magnitude 6.3 quake' by placing stress 'on a previously unknown fault, killing 180 people and leaving thousands homeless.' Last week's earthquakes and aftershocks are centered in rural Lincoln County, in an area about 30 miles east of Oklahoma City and there are 181 injection wells In Lincoln County. But a recent study by Austin Holland, a seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey, says that it's possible that hydraulic fracking caused a series of small earthquakes, peaking at 2.8, in an area south of Oklahoma City but doesn't believe fracking caused the big Nov. 5, 6 and 8 earthquakes comparing a man-made earthquake to a mosquito bite. 'It's really quite inconsequential,' says Holland."

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288 comments

No. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051540)

It was global warming.

Re:No. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051828)

We just need to start living in bouncy castles instead of inflexible, tends-to-break-apart-into-heavy-and-sharp-things houses.

Re:Probably. (5, Interesting)

imamac (1083405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051638)

Most of the news around here (Oklahoma) is saying probably not. The seismologists that have been on are saying that, while the earthquakes were shallow, they were still far too deep to be caused by fracking.

Re:Probably. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051904)

I guess I'm not sure how anyone is ruling out the possibility of a cumulative effect from the minor (2.8 and under) earthquakes, which we are being told can be caused by fracking, putting stress on the fault line. Is that really not possible?

Re:Probably. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052088)

Um. Wouldn't repeated small quakes *RELIEVE* stress on the fault?

You know, instead of it being released all at once in a major quake.

Admittedly, the tiny quakes are far far far too small to relieve the energy of a large quake, being like 100,000 times too small, but still, it should have a tiny energy reducing effect.

Re:Probably. (4, Informative)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052232)

Think of the deep strata as a series of huge boulders and sets of rock formation lying atop one another -- like a big dry masonry wall. At first the surface pressure only creates small releases, a rock high up the formation shifts slightly or cracks releasing pressure. Some of that pressure is immediately released in the form of a tremor, the rest remains as potential energy. Now the weight of that stone which had been held up (in part) by an arch or lintel farther up the structure is putting pressure directly down onto the lower surfaces. Not only that, but the shift has changed the entire structural dynamic of the earth -- suddenly hundreds of small stress points and load-bearing surfaces bear down onto a smaller and smaller area -- or rest on a long wide surface -- when that fault shifts or cracks the combined potential energy trapped in all the mass weighing on the fault is released.

So, it depends -- if the small quakes were all caused by a single fault shifting, then yes breaking that motion up into a series of smaller movements means there is less potential energy in the position of the strata around the fault -- if, however, the smaller quakes are movement on other faults or the impact of rock settling into the gaps and pockets once occupied by natural gas under pressure -- then you might just be loading up the weight on that big fault creating a higher potential for a big movement.

-GiH

Re:Probably. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052276)

Well, in either case, if the "loading up" is relative to the size of the quake, then it is tiny to inconsequential.

You'd need a million magnitude 2 quakes to create a magnitude 6.

So, really, seems rather irrelevant whether it is "loading" or "relieving".

Seems more about people seeking to assign blame.

I mean, if you want to pick random causes, why not blame it on, oh, shocks from the east coast quake or something?

Re:Probably. (5, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052064)

Most of the news around here (Oklahoma) is saying probably not. The seismologists that have been on are saying that, while the earthquakes were shallow, they were still far too deep to be caused by fracking.

Hmm...the big Oklahoma quake was 3.1 miles deep (the smaller quakes leading up to it were around 2.5 - 3.5 miles deep). Fracking wells are typically 1 to 4 miles deep.

The Woodford shale formation under Oklahoma ranges from 5000 - 12000 feet. (around 1 to 2.25 miles)

Sounds like it's in the same ballpark, I'm not saying that the fracking and earthquakes are definitely related, but I wouldn't call the quake "far too deep" to have resulted from fracking.

More Data (5, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051588)

I lived in Lawton, Oklahoma for a few months. I can't think of a better place to experiment with fracking and earthquakes. Let's go do some science!

Re:More Data (5, Insightful)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051716)

While we're at it, let's have more data about which chemicals are being injected. They will eventually turn up in the water table through Murphy's law.

Re:More Data (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051866)

Right, because there's no way that the earth will distill those out by the time that water makes it back to the water table.... :-/

Re:More Data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051994)

This is like saying,

"Right, because there's no way the earth will not distill those out by the time that water makes it back to the water table... :-/"

Cause, you know, there aren't any fissures underground where water freely flows and can be easily extracted.

Re:More Data (1)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051888)

Well, the amount of movement of the plates (continental drift) is definitely outside of our control. If some fracking did cause the earthquake to happen prematurely, then it is probably set to go an even longer than normal stretch now before the next earthquake.

Re:More Data (1)

AioKits (1235070) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052104)

Grew up there, I suggest fracking along Lee Blvd... Fracking Lee should generate desirable results...

A BSG fan may ask... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051592)

...how many couples were fracking at the same time to convert the localized bed shaking into an all out earthquake?

Re:A BSG fan may ask... (4, Funny)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051618)

Just one - it's just that Starbuck fracks so hard, she'll literally rock your world.

Re:A BSG fan may ask... (4, Insightful)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051872)

Actually, a real Battlestar Galactica fan knows Starbuck was a cocky male, not a hot female. You must be speaking of the remake.

Re:A BSG fan may ask... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051992)

http://www.chailife.com/2011/05/starbucks-drinking-starbucks-at-starbucks/

Re:A BSG fan may ask... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052266)

Errrrr, she is anything but hot in the remake. Cocky yes, but shes fugly!

Re:A BSG fan may ask... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051950)

It was me fracking your mothers mouth that caused it.

dumbass (2, Funny)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051596)

If you get 181 mosquito bites in the same 1-square inch of skin, what do you think will happen?

Re:dumbass (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051650)

You'll get a nasty rash, possibly some nasty disease, and people will laugh at you for not getting insect repellent and being a mosquito magnet.

Re:dumbass (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051664)

If you get 181 mosquito bites in the same 1-square inch of skin, what do you think will happen?

That rebuttal would make sense if he had said that each injection well equated to a mosquito bite. He didn't.

Statistics Please! (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051604)

Instead of an endless stream of anecdotes can someone please do some statistics. Number of quakes within X miles of all fracking sites since fracking began versus number of quakes within X miles of all fracking sites in the years before fracking began. I'm sure it won't be pleasant to gather all the numbers, but there are dozens of places where fracking is being used, I can't imagine we don't have enough data by now to discover if there are some basic trends or not.

Re:Statistics Please! (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051760)

You would think there would be data, but until someone suggests a correlation it's unlikely that the research exists. It certainly isn't in the interest of the extraction companies to find a link, and when you send somebody looking for something you don't want them to find, any evidence (even unrelated) is damning.

There was talk about this when the Virginia earthquake hit earlier this summer, too. It's the largest since 1897, and not on a particularly well-known fault (like the Narrows fault where the 1897 EQ hit).

Don't know if there's any correlation, but since USGS tracks these things, the data should be available from the EQ side - just need to time correlate it to when/where extraction operations occurred.

Re:Statistics Please! (1, Redundant)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051776)

Riiiiiight... I'm sure the oil and drilling companies will jump all over cooperating with that study.

Re:Statistics Please! (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051840)

What do you need their cooperation for? They have fill out paperwork with the EPA before they can begin fracking at a given location and they aren't in charge of maintaining seismology records last time I checked. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that all the information needed to do a baseline study is public domain, available from one public database or another if you knew where to look.

Re:Statistics Please! (4, Informative)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051934)

You need their cooperation to survive the massive anti-you lobby they will put out. Source: tobacco industry and decades it took for poor bastards trying to study tobacco's adverse effects on health to shake off "sharlatan"-image slapped on them by the said industry.

On the other hand it's actually pretty interesting that we as humans are getting skilled and powerful enough to affect planet in ways that causes earthquakes without having to blow stuff up underground. We've done it with geothermal and apparently this at the very least.

Re:Statistics Please! (1, Informative)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051954)

The EPA has been all but dismantled by the last few administrations. Corporations are self regulating - they are the ones responsible for testing and complying with the law. I bet those numbers are never fudged, especially when there is no additional checking done by the EPA in 99% of the cases. If the corporations are responsible for testing and reporting the results to the EPA, why would they ever report something negative that could cost them millions of dollars to fix?

Re:Statistics Please! (1)

Artraze (600366) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052158)

Every state has a Dept. of Environmental Protection (or similar), and I know a few states that have a moratorium on fracking. Presently my state does not, but my county does. Even lower than that, municipalities and property owners have a say in fracking. So regardless of whether of not the EPA is "all but dismantled", there is still quite a bit of oversight for fracking. Oversight (and, indeed, research funding) by the people most closely affected by it, not some massive federal bureaucracy.

Re:Statistics Please! (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052250)

Right, and what about states/counties that do not have a lot of oversight on fracking on the books presently? If only there were an Agency with federal jurisdiction in Environmental Protection policy... Oh yeah, right. Do you really think every county has a fiscal responsibility to do research on it's own? Or do you really think you can trust the research that is done exclusively by the corporations who stand to greatly benefit financially if nothing negative is found?

Re:Statistics Please! (4, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051834)

Instead of an endless stream of anecdotes can someone please do some statistics. Number of quakes within X miles of all fracking sites since fracking began versus number of quakes within X miles of all fracking sites in the years before fracking began. I'm sure it won't be pleasant to gather all the numbers, but there are dozens of places where fracking is being used, I can't imagine we don't have enough data by now to discover if there are some basic trends or not.

That's not really going to tell you much - what you really need is historical seismic data. Generally speaking, you'd expect a lot of small seismic activity temporally centered around a larger event. So what you really need to know is - does the pattern of seismic activity prior to this quake differ substantially from the activity observed prior to other historical quakes in the same area?

With fracking being such a recent practice, and given that eastern US earthquakes tend to effect a relatively large area thanks to the geology of the region... just looking at recent trends could very well be misleading.

Unfortunately the midwest is rather stable geologically, so there's likely not enough data points to allow one to draw a conclusion with any expectation of certainty.

Re:Statistics Please! (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051884)

Number of quakes within X miles of all fracking sites since fracking began

That's a lot of bedrooms.

On the bright side, there should be billions of individual data points available for each year since fracking, er, I mean sexual reproduction began (this is a family show, right?).

It depends ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051606)

Did Fracking Cause Recent Oklahoma Earthquakes?

How large were the couple?

Re:It depends ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051786)

One of them was yo mamma.

Smaller earthquakes are better (4, Interesting)

Kohath (38547) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051616)

What if it did? Earthquakes can't be avoided. The longer that seismic pressure builds, the bigger the quake. Relieving this pressure early by causing minor quakes should help avoid massive, deadly earthquakes in the future.

Re:Smaller earthquakes are better (4, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051646)

That makes about as much sense as snorting a bunch of coke to determine whether you might have latent heart problems.

Re:Smaller earthquakes are better (4, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051796)

Actually, it does. Snorting coke didn't cause the heart condition. If I have a latent heart problem, it's in my interest to find out when I'm young and healthy so I can survive the first event. Then I can manage the condition to live a long life rather than dropping dead at 46 years old.

I think "exercise" is more analogous than "snorting coke", but whatever...

Re:Smaller earthquakes are better (2)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051922)

You're assuming you'll survive the first event. Maybe you'd die at 46, but dying at 26 is worse.

Re:Smaller earthquakes are better (3, Funny)

spidr_mnky (1236668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052166)

So, unless Oklahoma is in unrecoverable ruins, that's Kohath: 1, pclminion: 0.

Re:Smaller earthquakes are better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051802)

Sorry, not really. The analogy would be correct (according to the theory of the OP) if snorting coke could trigger latent heart problems but over time should make these less likely to be fatal, eventually disappear.

And there should be plenty of current information on the scientifically examined question of whether earthquakes always release pressure or can contribute to or be incidental to pressure.

Re:Smaller earthquakes are better (2)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051914)

That's only true if the fracking is triggering an earthquake that is powered by already-built-up stress. This is actually asking whether fracking is causing additional stress that eventually leads to earthquakes. Adding stress does not, in fact, make earthquakes less serious.

Re:Smaller earthquakes are better (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052168)

This except that there is another possibility as well. These small quakes may not be ultimately relieving or adding stress but transferring it to a different location ultimately leading to a build up of stress along a particular fault without any net input or release of stress until the large quake that would result from the concentrated stress.

Re:Smaller earthquakes are better (5, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052108)

Your argument (and that of many other commenters in this thread) would make sense if all earthquakes were caused by slip-fault activity and are therefore unavoidable/inevitable so long as there is tension between plates. That is simply not the case. It is perfectly possible (but no one really knows) that the process used in hydraulic fracturing (a lot easier of a term to use with a straight face than 'Fracking') is altering the crust in a way nothing else would, and hence is generating earthquakes that otherwise would never have existed in the first place.

did phony hugh pickens style talknicians sink /,? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051624)

or does it just look that way? occupy independent thinking. state sponsored corepirate nazi hypenosys is never accurate. always contrived using fake math, science, history, religion, /. posters etc...

Re:did phony hugh pickens style talknicians sink / (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052034)

You are not the daring iconoclast you so desperately want people to think you are. And you know it.

Have to keep watching (2)

chipperdog (169552) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051636)

If North Dakota starts seeing earthquakes (they are in the center of the North American plate), then we know that fracking has something to do with it....Of course the petrochemical, and petrochemical funded industries will do studies to find no connection...

Re:Have to keep watching (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052030)

I don't think anyone is claiming that fracking is causing fault lines to appear where there were not any previously.

Butterfly Effect (5, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051654)

The Butterfly Effect is described in terms of weather systems, where it's total bullshit.

But here, not so much. The ground under us is full of cracks that have stopped moving because they're caught on something. Break that something, and you unleash a quake. If the reason the crack can't produce enough force is because there's another, smaller thing they're caught on, too, then all you have to do is break that smaller thing to allow the bigger thing to feel enough stress to be broken.

And so on.

As I said, this is bullshit in the atmosphere, where violence is the result of concentration of energy from the movement of thousands or millions of cubic kilometers of atmosphere into a vortex in their midst, something a butterfly can have no bearing on. But underground these chains of critical stability are all over the place. Just look at the NEIC's map and see them letting go daily. And each time one lets go, it changes the criticality of another, or of another part of itself.

Fracking certainly could be the causative factor in the initiation of a chain of releases that result in a larger release. The fact that there are smaller quakes means that of course they could be releasing the crack to bear on a major sticking point with more force than before, and certainly could lead to a larger quake.

Any seismologist who discounts this possibility is suspect.

Re:Butterfly Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051920)

Care to back this up with a degree of some type? Maybe even a couple of cites will do. It sounds to me that you're not better off in understanding the process and problem than anyone else.

Re:Butterfly Effect (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052038)

I think you're using the wrong analogy. The butterfly effect describes how one portion of a chaotic system can affect another part in a nonintuitive (non-deterministic?) way. You're looking for something like a "snowball effect", where a small snowball rolling downhill can accumulate into a devastating snow boulder (i.e., a progressively-increasing effect, not a chaotic one).

Re:Butterfly Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052130)

That's the same thing that occurred first in my mind. We have probably been fracking up the crust for a while now.

Re:Butterfly Effect (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052204)

The Butterfly Effect is described in terms of weather systems, where it's total bullshit.

The "Butterfly Effect" is simply that even minute changes in a chaotic system, such as the weather, can result in large changes far enough down the road. Saying it can't matter is incorrect.

As one of the AC's mentioned, you're speaking of some sort of "snowball effect".

Any seismologist who discounts this possibility is suspect.

I imagine we'll have to measure geological properties such as stress and strain on a newly developed fracking field to see how things change. It might be a bit costly to do, but capital layout is probably not that significant.

Re:Butterfly Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052206)

Are you basing this on anything more than gut feeling?

Fracking might lead to a large earthquake; the sun might not rise tomorrow. The question you have to answer is how likely these things are.

Until you have the stats, critics are going to assume the gas companies are environment-hating bastards, and supporters are going to assume critics are NIMBYS using environmental hysteria as a convenient shield.

But once you stop relying on gut feeling and start using hard numbers, you can start making decisions that everyone can agree with.

Unless people go all global-warming again and dismiss empirical evidence. If that happens, I'll take it is final proof that the west is fucked and move to a cabin in the Northwest Territories.

Re:Butterfly Effect (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052236)

I amd not a meteoroligist and don't know how much I buy into the butterfly effect, but I hear it described in 1-of-2 ways.

1) The minute air displacement from a flap might shift the overall wind current .0000001% and thus make a change down the line.

2) The domino effect
a) Butterfly flaps its wings, incredibly small breeze
b) Incredibly small breeze moves some pollen / dust / etc
c) Floating pollen / dust makes a predator sneeze (like a cheetah)
d) The sneeze scares the heard of animals that it was hunting, causing them to run en-masse
e) Their running causes an actual breeze
f) Now you have a stronger breeze that can actually carry, and might continue along with just larger dominos.
e)...
N) Eventually you get a strong enough wind that might affect something in the weather pattern.

Again, I'm not saying either would feasibly alter the weather. But at least #2 could continue onto something like shifting a storm .001% off course affecting which town gets hit.

Maybe stop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051688)

Maybe they could put a moratorium on fracking and see if they number of earthquakes goes back down? I realize that wouldn't be definitive, but it's better than continuing to wonder while we keep doing it.

Doctor, it hurts when I ...

Stupid Media. (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051740)

Conservative Media: Fracking is perfectly safe, everyone should allow this in their back yard, if you don't have it in your back yard then you are letting the terrorist win.
Liberal Media: Fracking is horrible, it pollutes all your drinking water, causes earthquakes, and eats puppies.

Like all forms of energy extraction there are economic trade-offs that must happen. Fracking a newer technology is much cleaner then other methods but it isn't 100% clean or safe. Yes it could cause issues with underground wells, but it doesn't always. It is one of those things you need to monitor while you are doing it. And make sure if it does pollute your drinking water the Fracking company has insurances that will provide the residence with clean water for as long as their water tables are polluted.

Heck when I was growing up. They built a housing development with a huge water tower. And what happened after they started drilling our own water became much heavier and contained more surfer. Yes there is an impact. But compared to the alternatives it is better the other ones are.

Re:Stupid Media. (3)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051936)

Like all forms of energy extraction there are economic trade-offs that must happen.

And the general form of this is: "ignore the problem until after we're filthy rich from selling energy to the consumers, then walk away and let the government (i.e., the consumers) pay to clean it up."

If the people causing the problems had to pay to fix them, most energy extraction wouldn't be done.

Which would be the correct choice, unless you're the greedhead who stands to become a rich greedhead in the process.

Re:Stupid Media. (4, Interesting)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051964)

Absolutely- and I wish people would realise this.

It appears mostly cleaner than other forms of energy retrieval- certainly much cleaner than coal and less environmental damage than moving mountain tops around.

It is something that needs to be monitored- and from what I understand the use of toxic chemicals is not required- there are non-toxic equivalents that may cost a little more... USE THEM.

Regulate the industry- don't just kill it outright.

I'm also curious specifically on the drinking water pollution- something we should watch. Some people have detected elevated levels of methane in their water around fracking sites. I'm curious how much of this is really from fracking and how much is due to the fact that they only frack in places where there is methane in the ground anyway.

Sure you're going to find more methane in areas around fracking sites than elsewhere... that's why they are fracking there in the first place.

Please proceed with fracking- but have independent review and make sure shotcuts arn't taken. Make sure we watch all the time and take every precaution not to make a "deepwater" mistake. This is potentially a great way to get "relatively" clean power.

Re:Stupid Media. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052214)

Your never going to get elected with that attitude.

Re:Stupid Media. (1)

pburghdoom (1892490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052244)

It appears mostly cleaner than other forms of energy retrieval- certainly much cleaner than coal and less environmental damage than moving mountain tops around.

Certainly better than moving mountain tops and possibly better than coal, but as I understand it most of the chemicals used are considered proprietary and protected as a trade secret and therefore are not very well know (at least to the general public or regulators) if at all. The unknown chemicals could very well be some seriously nasty stuff. It is one of the general concerns with fracking.

Petro Engineer's POV (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051756)

I am or was a petroleum engineer, and I can tell you that yes it's entirely possible for subsurface oil and gas operations to affect fault lines and cause seismic events like those described.

With that being said, I think there is also a lot of FUD surrounding the practice of fracing. Fracing is not particularly new to the Oil and Gas industry, and there are a lot of Oil and Gas operations that cause environmental and seismic problems, not just fracing.

I feel like people have sort of jumped on to this Fracing thing, because of the "Gasland" documentary. And now they have some "evil" practice to blame the Oil and Gas companies for, but in reality I think it is a little more complicated than that. We have found trillions of cubic feet of natural gas reserves that can be released through fracing, and this has a major implications for domestic energy production and the US economy.

Re:Petro Engineer's POV (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051980)

The process is becoming more necessary to get at less-accessible sources of fuel, since we've bled the easy ones dry. And there are just plain more people so it's happening near an inhabited space more often.

Neither of those processes will be reversing itself, so the decision is to let the people die from flames shooting out of their showerheads, or stop trying to get at this fuel because it's just not worth it.

Re:Petro Engineer's POV (1)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052194)

Or advance the science and engineering so that we can safely retrieve the stored petrochemicals and handle the resulting combustion products. You know, there's always that option.

Collateral Damage Much? (1)

walkerp1 (523460) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051762)

I require more data. Could we try this in San Francisco?

Re:Collateral Damage Much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052014)

I vote for Texas after Oklahoma.

What Chemicals?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051804)

"Chemicals" do not describe WHAT they actually use. Includes Sodium Hydroxide or Caustic Soda.
Drain cleaner like Draino or Lye as it was formerly called. They are dissolving matter to create more passages.
This is besides the fracking debate. Asked why, the industry used "chemicals" and not the true names of the agents,
they said to hide their 'formula' contents.

Fracking and making the earth move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051808)

Fracking and feeling the earth move have been going on hand in hand, er, body part in body part, since the first humans fracked.

Maybe, but it didn't cause the Virginia quake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051836)

The general consensus is that fracking didn't cause the 5.8 Virignia quake, since the nearest fracking is in the next state, probably several geological zones away.

There have also been quakes of comparable magnitude in OK. You have a "before and after", both with quakes.

Of course when you consider the scale of geological time, we also have really small samples. There could be an 8.0 in Paris tomorrow. That might be a normal occurence very 50,000 years.

It is no big deal. Simple solution exists. (0)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051896)

What is the big deal about these earthquakes? What's the maximum damage it can do? Kill a few thousand people? Easily fixed, corporations are people, we will just create a few thousand corporations to make up the difference. Property damage? Why, the value of all the undamaged properties will rise, and may be even bring some underwater mortgages above water. So it is no big deal.

If at all you want to do something, give voting rights to corporations, they should not be discriminated in the access to the ballot boxes. And more tax cuts. Always more tax cuts.

Re:It is no big deal. Simple solution exists. (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052094)

The earthquakes that fracking causes (according to independent scientists) are a max of 3 on the richter scale... in otherwise barely feelable.

The vast majority of "fracking" quakes you need expensive sensitive equipment to even detect and are the kind of quakes that happen all around the globe many times over every day.

Now- if they determine that fracking can and does cause more powerfull quakes it would be of concern... so far there is no link.

I wouldn't "frack" near a nuclear power plant or house toxic chemical plants near fracking rigs JUST IN CASE... but... most likely fracking quakes are absolutely nothing to worry about.

I'd believe it... (2)

iMouse (963104) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051930)

Call it a coincidence, but the Youngstown, Ohio area has never had regular earthquakes. We'd be lucky to have a noticeable earthquake once every 2-3 years. Since fracking began in this area, we've had 7 earthquakes since March 2011! Three of those earthquakes were felt by a large number of the locals with the other 4 only going somewhat noticed.

These earthquakes are in the 2.x magnitude, causing very little to no damage, but how can these experts ignore anomalies like this?

http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/geosurvey/html/eq_archv/tabid/8304/Default.aspx [state.oh.us]

Lake Erie has a lot of underground salt mining operations in place, hence why you'll see a whole lot of reports of earthquakes in the Erie area.

1960's Denver is the textbook case (4, Informative)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051976)

Rocky Mountain Arsenal, bordering the city limits of Denver, tried disposing of liquid waste by injecting it 12,000 feet below the ground. The result was a series of damaging earthquakes in Denver, up to 5.0 - 5.5 magnitude. USGS wrote a report [usgs.gov] in 1990.

The Victorian warehouse at 1000 Bannock [google.com] still shows steel L-braces affixed to the exterior to hold the brick building together from the 1967 earthquake damage -- notice also the long crack running clear through from the back wall diagonally up to the roof.

San Antonio earthquakes "near" fracking as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052018)

There have been a few 4.x and 3.x events here in central Texas; the last were southeast of San Antonio and near some fracking wells.

Live in Oklahoma, work around the industry.... (5, Informative)

tacokill (531275) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052040)

Not only do I live in Oklahoma but my work bumps up against the energy/hydrocarbon industry. This is a subject that I know quite a bit about, in fact....

The answer is: No, No, and No.

For forever, Oklahoma has had small earthquakes like this. It is not uncommon as we sit on the Arkoma plate (little known fact: The Arbuckle mountains were the largest in the world....about 130 million yrs ago). I remember quakes as far back as I can remember and I can even remember the dumb local news outlets mistaking a B52 landing at night for yet another earthquake (circa 1991 or so). This is not a news story, rather, it is an opportunity for the anti-fracking crowd to push its agenda when the opportunity is ripe. Whether it has any basis in reality is quite a different question...

The quakes were centered almost in the middle of the state. Unfortunately for the anti-fracking crowd, all of the fracking in the state is going on in the Woodford Shale [oilshalegas.com] , which is South / Southwest of where the quakes occured (by a lot). While earthquakes being caused by fracking cater to our common senses, there just isn't ANY evidence that the two are linked. And I mean in that statistical "causation" way. *NO* regulatory agency, body, or otherwise has indicated otherwise.

Additionally, the Woodford shale deposit has been in active development for many many years. Fracking didn't just start there a few years ago. Try a decade or more.

While I never say never, I will only say that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And it's an extraordinary claim to suggest our fracking is starting earthquakes here in Oklahoma.

Re:Live in Oklahoma, work around the industry.... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052238)

I live in Northwestern Oklahoma, and currently work for a Oil and Natural Gas company who not only supplies but regularly uses fracking equipment. At present there are over 300 wells in northwestern Oklahoma that have been fracked in the past 2 years, and yet northwest Oklahoma has seen absolutely no change in seismic activity. And yes fracking is the standard in the US for natural gas well production, and has been for at least 6 years. Thank you for being sensible and knowledgeable on the subject, so few are on here.

Re:Live in Oklahoma, work around the industry.... (3, Informative)

ricky-road-flats (770129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052280)

While earthquakes being caused by fracking cater to our common senses, there just isn't ANY evidence that the two are linked. And I mean in that statistical "causation" way. *NO* regulatory agency, body, or otherwise has indicated otherwise.

Except HERE... [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Live in Oklahoma, work around the industry.... (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052304)

I thought I'd note that according to the USGS earthquake maps, the quakes in question, while not in the "Sweet Spot" areas on the map found on the site you linked to, are within the given boundaries of the Woodford Shale (again based on the map found on your link). So further investigation as to how much fraking is being done just north of Shawnee is essential to back up your claims.

I tend to agree with you but, your case isn't as strong as you claim. The real question is what does the historical record say about the frequency of earthquakes in the region.

North Dakota Fracking (4, Informative)

jarrettwold2002 (601633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052042)

If you want to see if fracking leads to an increase in geological activity, keeping an eye on North Dakota might be interesting. We have a large scale oil boom happening here. The Bakken formation is being rapidly developed using fracking in an ever increasing scale.

The state is also relatively stable.
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states/north_dakota/history.php [usgs.gov]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakken_formation [wikipedia.org]

Why now? Because its political (5, Interesting)

kick6 (1081615) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052124)

I lived in Oklahoma and worked in the natural gas industry circa 2005. At that point we were already frac'ing every single natural gas well we drilled, and probably had been for a decade prior. Why NOW is it suddenly a problem? Oh that's right...because its a politcal issue. If there was any real science to support this frac=quake BS siesmologists would have been screaming about it a decade ago.

Semi-trucks (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052216)

Does anyone have the slightest idea of how many semi-trucks are traveling the roads today? If you are out on any of the Interstate roads in the evening you will pretty much seen an unending line of trucks as far as you can see. That is thousands of trucks moving across the roads at any given moment in time. Over the course of 24 hours it is likely to be over 500,000 trucks having been driven that day.

So what? Well, considering the trucks together are going to average out at around 40,000 pounds each - 20 tons - even a conservative figure of 1000 trucks is 20,000 tons in motion. A million trucks would be twenty million tons of mass moving across the surface of the Earth. Easily within a single day we have ten million tons in motion.

What do you think this is doing to the Earth's rotation? How does it affect the balance of teutonic plates having say 50,000 trucks moving from California to Arizona from 10PM to 4AM?

There are more things than you think that are affecting the geologic stability of the world.

it doesn't create the pressure (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052292)

It doesn't create the pressure.
forcing fluid in between the pressure faces of a fault basically lubricates it.
it's releasing pressure that was already there.

decades ago there was a case in Colorado where a government disposal well did this as also.

it's not new.
it's not necessarily bad, they just need to be more careful where and how they do it.

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