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USGS Suggests Connection Between Seismic Activity and Fracking

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the pumping-is-fun dept.

Earth 145

First time accepted submitter samazon writes "According to a recently proposed abstract by the United States Geological Survey, hydraulic fracturing, or more specifically the disposal of fracking wastewater, may be directly correlated to the increase in seismic activity in the midwest. Results of the paper will be presented on April 18th, but the language of the abstract seems to imply that there is a connection. After years of controversy regarding hydrofracking including ground water contamination and disclosure of chemical solutions, the results of the study, if conclusive, could influence the cost of natural gas due to increased regulations on wastewater disposal." The actual language of the abstract leaves a fair amount of wiggle room: "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."

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Oh Great. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604655)

Another reason for some people to reinforce their belief that science is anti-business and that scientists should be dismissed, if not stopped.

Re:Oh Great. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604689)

Completely agree. Until there is 100% conclusive evidence that can be reproduced in real world situation this can be filed in with the rest of the guf the science community regurgitates to try and get it's way. People's jobs and livelihood be damned, we have "facts"!

Re:Oh Great. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604773)

"Until there is 100% conclusive evidence that can be reproduced"

We should stop burning oil just in case carbon emissions really are causing global warming

"Until there is 100% conclusive evidence that can be reproduced"

That there was a big bang we should switch of the LHC

"Until there is 100% conclusive evidence that can be reproduced"

That the earth is round we should stop sailing ships towards the horizon

"Until there is 100% conclusive evidence that can be reproduced"

That humans can survive in space we should stay here on this rock

Humans have believed a great many things that have turned out to be complete bunk. In the early days of the railways people were convinced that people would suffocate above 20 mph. Cars were deemed so dangerous that a man with a flag had to walk in front of them, because there was no " 100% conclusive evidence" that their suggestions could be proved on way or another

You on the other hand have provided /. with "100% conclusive evidence" that you're not nearly as clever as you'd like to think you are

Re:Oh Great. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39605813)

I'm not the poster you are replying to, and I haven't even read his post (it is below the threshold currently), but I'd just like to point out that everyone on /. thinks they are smarter than the person they are acting like dicks to. So instead of saying fuck you, I'll say

Re:Oh Great. (0)

howardd21 (1001567) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605905)

Well said.

Re:Oh Great. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604975)

Completely agree. Until there is 100% conclusive evidence that can be reproduced in real world situation You mean like the cancer papers?

Re:Oh Great. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39605545)

Hey, they fracked in Oklahoma, the room shook under my ass in Kansas. They fracked again in Oklahoma, the room shook again and a picture came off the wall. It took me about two damned seconds to reach 100% conclusion. It's the fucking fracking. Din't spend a dime on research either. I think a phone call woulda took care of it, but hey if we gotta feed vagrants, I guess we gotta feed professors who take their sweet damn time writing a carefully worded,spell checked paper full of information WE ALREADY HAD AT GROUND ZERO at hour zero. Timely? Useful? New info? Beneficial to anyone who didn't get paid? Dumbasses....hmph...

Re:Oh Great. (4, Interesting)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604719)

Putting aside the possible implication that you think science should censor politically unsavory findings and renege on its mission, this won't be like other warnings from scientists. Climate is a big impersonal force that's hard to grasp. It unfolds slowly and is hard to really "experience" first hand. A tripling of the number of earthquakes in the midwest is, shall we say, slightly more visceral.

Re:Oh Great. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604797)

I wasn't attempting to imply that anyone should be censored, much less good science. I build equipment for scientists in the life sciences industry - I fall in the "ignoramuses be damned, let the science proceed" camp.

In our current political divide in the US, it seems that some people are becoming more automatic in their dismissal of evidence if it contradicts their beliefs. There was a survey I read about (I'm too lazy to look it up) which said that amongst those people who did not agree with AGW, a large percentage said they were not interested in new facts. Reading that... it's hard not to despair a bit.

I know it won't be long before someone hoists this study up complaining about scientists wanting to take away jobs. And I die a little everything that kind of BS happens.

Sorry if I wasn't clear about that.

Re:Oh Great. (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604843)

Crap. Modded this post the wrong way.

Re:Oh Great. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39605115)

There would be less skepticism and suspicion if science provided some balance against all the fear it is deliberately used to create. The vast majority of the trivially small tremors associated with fracking aren't a threat to anyone. If you pull millions of tons of fluid out of the Earth it will shift a bit. The continent isn't going to shatter and sink into the Atlantic.

Government funded scientists aren't encouraged to offer that view, however, because the people that paid for the science don't care to hear it. They would rather leverage that fear into political power.

The trumped up claim that the keystone pipeline is a threat to Nebraska groundwater went unchallenged by scientists, the people best equipped to calculate the amazing improbability of that claim. Instead, the fear was promulgated unchallenged just as the statists intended.

We know the score. Contemporary government sponsored science is a fear creation industry. It's purpose is to create ammo for statists to use in the acquisition and exercise of power. Unless and until that changes you will have to endure ever more strident anti-'science' attitudes, and it will be well deserved.

Re:Oh Great. (4, Interesting)

professionalfurryele (877225) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605499)

I'm sorry but that is just a big crock of shit. It isn't scientists fault that the right of the political spectrum is too stupid and blinkered to ask the right questions or adjust their views enough to accommodate reality.

A scientists job in this context is to present the facts they have gathered and the conclusions they have drawn in a politically neutral manner. Why do you think they all sound like Vulcans on CSPAN.

If the political right wants scientists to say that the breaking of a continent in two due to fracking is incredibly unlikely I'm certain (since that statement is bloody obviously true) that you can find a reputable geophysicist willing to say that. Most scientists are happy to provide their advice (free of charge), to public institutions. The reason the political right wont do that is because the next question they are going to be asked by the gentleman with the blue tie is "how much does this increase the chances of a 7.0+ earthquake near a population centre".

Why didn't the right invite a scientists to testify about the Nebraska pipeline? It is within their power to request it, so why not? The media doesn't give a crap what scientists say so if the political right wants to champion a science led perspective on policy they're are going to have to use their media pull to promote it.

The reason, in this context, that the political right has not provided the soap box scientists need to counter these claims is because they know that once it is all tied down the moral implications of this kind of work is that either certain extraction techniques should be prohibited or (and here is where I fall on the issue) they need to be taxed higher to offset the additional costs incurred in terms of insurance, first responder preparations, etc. The political right, instead of doing what they are supposed to do (countering the lefts heavy handed statist approach with a different political solution to the problem by using the market) are pretending the problem doesn't exist,

Re:Oh Great. (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605863)

The political right, instead of doing what they are supposed to do (countering the lefts heavy handed statist approach with a different political solution to the problem by using the market) are pretending the problem doesn't exist,

Without regulation and oversight, the free market will externalize as much of its costs as possible.

Re:Oh Great. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39606137)

What the frack do you mean by "externalize"?

Short-term private profits over long-term communal benefits sounds more likely to be the unsustainable reality.
Corporations don't give a damn about the land and pollution. The people are hardly truly "external", so it's a badly coined word.

Re:Oh Great. (1)

maitai (46370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605273)

You mean this scientific study that has no conclusions either way?

FUD Rejection (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39605443)

As a Mathematician, Scientist and Engineer I am certainly becomming highly skeptical of a LOT of MODERN RESEARCH which is often sloppy, subject to investigator bias and depends on un-verified Computer Models. The tide of bilge comming from the Universities demonstrates that something has gone very wrong with research methodologies.

It is rare too see careful conservative work like CERN's super-luminal neutrinos.

Only 11% of papers published in Clinical Oncology are reproducible. In "climate science" the mistakes and misuse of models amounts to fraud!

The "buy a conclusion" model of research funding has become endemic.

Greens/malthusians/environmentalists are particularly prone to this trick.

Once again Government and Politics have destroyed a centuaries old working system in the name of (post-)modernism which is why we have never paid more and got less for our research dollar.

MFG, omb

Re:FUD Rejection (2, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605745)

You seem to bei neither. Because you willfully ignore that any attempt to prove that climate scientists committed fraud resulted into nothing. Not a single instance of fraud! Despite lots of accusations and investigations, still no evidence of fraud. Instead every project so far to independently gather the data, analyze them and then prove the climate theories wrong (as a scientist would do it), resulted in the same predictions the climate scientists already made.

But instead of being a scientist and accepting the facts and thus thinking that the climate science might under certain circumstances have some valid claims, you continue to spread baseless claims of fraud.

So, whatever you are, you are not a scientist.

Re:Oh Great. (3, Interesting)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604761)

Don't worry. Some Libertarian think tank will surely release a study that proves that fracking is perfectly safe. That's the great thing about science: no matter what you believe, you can hire some think tank that will confirm and reinforce your biases. Some people may call that pseudo-science or shilling, but they lack the proper perspective to see that there's a dollar to be made.

Re:Oh Great. (1)

MiG82au (2594721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605069)

Your post would make much more sense if you left out "libertarian". It's a bit like calling anything related to government spending "socialist".

Re:Oh Great. (4, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605195)

I would say the great thing about science is that the repeatability of an experiment is the best fact-checker in the world.

In your scenario, one of three things would happen:

1) The experiment is repeated. Turns out that maybe fracking isn't all that harmful. It's not 100% sure but it adds more weight to the argument that fracking is safe.

2) The experiment is repeated. The results come out quite differently via multiple independent re-tests. Dismissed as a load of bullshit.

3) No experiment protocols are published. Dismissed as a load of bullshit due to inability to verify the experiment.

Re:Oh Great. (3, Insightful)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605937)

Simple experiment to conduct. Select ten, twenty or more sites that would be suitable for fracking. Set up seismographic equipment to locate the origin of earthquakes in all cases. Choose half the sites for fracking. Leave the other half as a control. Now you can gather results. This will give you a 2x2 table of fracking/no-fracking vs. earthquakes/no earthquakes. It could be extended to amount of fracking vs. strength of earthquake.

Re:Oh Great. (0)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604763)

Oh, it isn't so bad as all that. So long as the pointy-heads agree to change all references to 'seismic activity' or 'earthquakes' to 'geologic optimization' or 'seismic progress', we'll let them live. After all, somebody has to turn this GPR data into exploitable resource deposits so that us 'bigger picture' guys can do what we do best...

Re:Oh Great. (0, Troll)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605081)

If the report had come to the opposite conclusion, the other side would claim the scientists are corporate shills. You just can't win.

Can it prevent large earthquakes? (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604657)

That would obviously be quite a breakthrough if it could be made repeatable.

Re:Can it prevent large earthquakes? (1, Interesting)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604699)

I'm generally in favor exploring geo-engineering. Since, does anyone really expect to get China and India(the greatest sources of future emissions) to postpone carbon intensive growth through treaties? Inducing earthquakes seems much more dangerous than any scheme that involves adding reflective particles to the atmosphere. Engineering the atmosphere, as tough and uncertain as that is, is made easier by the fact that gases introduced to the upper atmosphere will fade in effect on a reasonable time scale and the faucet can be turned at off at any time. Fracturing the crust is much more permanent. It could be earthquakes now, but magma popping up in the middle of Cleveland later. There's no way to put the rock back together.

Re:Can it prevent large earthquakes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39605077)

No because it's completely impossible to control the U.S with treaties today. If that doesn't work, then why should the future superpower India and China be any easier? (apart from them actually having non-religiously fanatic leadership who doesn't believe it's all up to God).

Re:Can it prevent large earthquakes? (5, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605129)

Don't be silly. Fracture the crust? Are you insane? We can't drill that deep. The Crust is 50 MILES thick. We've NEVER directly sampled the mantle because it's not possible to drill that deep with current technology. We can't even drill 1/4 of the crust thickness. Maximum drilling depth is on the order of 5 miles or 1/10 the approximate crust thickness.

These are minor quakes, they are settlement and movement of sediment layers, not fault shifts. They happen anytime you drill at depth and push or pull material from the drill hole. They aren't anything to worry about, they've been happening for as long as we've been drilling (more than 100 years). I swear you east coasters feel a little shake and freak out.

Re:Can it prevent large earthquakes? (2)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605683)

minor correction the deepest hole drilled is ~7 miles(40,000+ feet)

Re:Can it prevent large earthquakes? (5, Informative)

estitabarnak (654060) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604815)

No, for a number of reasons. Even if smaller quakes simply "relieved stress," preventing larger quakes, the Richter scale is logarithmic so it'd take many small quakes to prevent a large one. USGS agrees: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/megaqk_facts_fantasy.php [usgs.gov]

Re:Can it prevent large earthquakes? (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604931)

Thanks for the link. I take the point about the amount of energy which would need to be dissipated but wouldn't it still be better to have 32,000 magnitude 3 quakes instead of one magnitude 6 quake?

Re:Can it prevent large earthquakes? (0)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605203)

Well, how often does a magnitude 6 quake happen? Let's just say for the sake of argument that it's once a year. That's nearly 100 mini-quakes a day. What if it happens more often?

The ideal, I suppose, would be to do it at a rate where our engineering can withstand it. If the building codes can handle mag 5s with little problem, then fire those off periodically to prevent worse ones.

The ancient Greeks suspected that (5, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604669)

They attributed quakes to Zeus and Hera fracking.

Re:The ancient Greeks suspected that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604691)

Fracking...it's happened before...it will happen again.

Re:The ancient Greeks suspected that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604703)

LOLOLOLOL. Shut up.

Re:The ancient Greeks suspected that (0)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604753)

LOL!

Mod current, (Score:5, Funny), as underrated!

Wiggle room indeed (1, Troll)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604707)

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.

"We don't actually know what the link is--but we're convinced one is there anyway."

Re:Wiggle room indeed (4, Interesting)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604741)

I'm no geologist, but I have learned a bit of stats.

In Oklahoma, the rate of M >= 3 events abruptly increased in 2009 from 1.2/year in the previous half-century to over 25/year. This rate increase is exclusive of the November 2011 M 5.6 earthquake and its aftershocks.

A twenty-five-fold increase, that excludes the largest outlying event, in the number of earthquakes would seem to be statistically significant of something.

Re:Wiggle room indeed (4, Insightful)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604857)

IIRC, two thirds of those quakes were within a half mile of drilling sites. Seems significant to me, anyway.

Re:Wiggle room indeed (-1, Flamebait)

M1FCJ (586251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605101)

That is unless you're an US Citizen voting Republican. Then the response for anything you hear/read which is remotely damaging to your religion or greedy business dealings is "LALALA! LALALALA!! LALALALALALA!!! CAN'T HEAR YOU!! YOU DON'T EXIST!"... These people wear the anti-science badge with an honour.

Re:Wiggle room indeed (2)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605209)

IIRC, two thirds of those quakes were within a half mile of drilling sites. Seems significant to me, anyway.

I know "correlation is not causation" and all that, but... I dunno, can this be an exception to the rule?

I think we can safely say that fracking is *somehow* involved in the increase. Even if it's just in this small area, it shows that it is possible and it warrants more investigation.

Why do I have the bad feeling that in the next 10-20 years we're gonna have something like Deepwater Horizon, but it's gonna be on land? Some poor little podunk town that never has earthquakes is gonna be shaken to bits because of fracking.

Re:Wiggle room indeed (2)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605347)

Correlation (if it is real), does imply causation, it just doesn't tell you the source or direction of the cause.

Re:Wiggle room indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39606007)

Correlation (if it is real), does imply causation, it just doesn't tell you the source or direction of the cause.

Actually it does not imply causation. Two unrelated series may be completely unrelated but correlated. Google the (mythical) hemline index.

Re:Wiggle room indeed (0)

maitai (46370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605277)

And we've been fracking since 1947... So 2009 (once it became a public icon) is some new thing?

Re:Wiggle room indeed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604769)

You're straying off your script, Bonch. You're being paid to bash Google, not defend pseudoscience.

Re:Wiggle room indeed (1)

MiG82au (2594721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605079)

"We don't actually know which of these two oil and gas extraction related reasons it is..."

There, fixed that for you.

Translation? (1, Insightful)

codepunk (167897) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604749)

Increase our budget so that we may study this more.

Re:Translation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604893)

Use your own money...or you increase my budget.

Re:Translation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604927)

I'll increase your salary if you agree to help me get an increase in budget.

Re:Translation? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604945)

This doesn't need to be studied any *more*. It's fucking obvious. I've been saying that fracking was causing earth quakes for TWO YEARS and everyone was either like "what's fracking?" or "you're fucking crazy".

What do you think caused those earthquakes that came out of fucking nowhere in Oklahoma last year? DUH.

Re:Translation? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604977)

Right because some random guy on slashdot saying it's fucking obvious is the same thing as conclusive research (no not *a* study that "suggests as much") scientifically proving the same thing. I'm gonna say that the stock market is going to crash tomorrow, and then I'll say the same thing the next day ad infitum, when it finally inevitably does I'll parade around and act like I'm smart. No sorry, pony up some specifics or go to hell.

Re:Translation? (2)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605027)

And this is exactly why scientists study things - because a gut feeling is not the same as data, no matter how much you'd like to believe that.

Fortunately for us, there are people willing to take your ridicule and ask obvious questions, with the idea that the answer might not be nearly as obvious as anyone thought.

Re:Translation? (3, Insightful)

MiG82au (2594721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605097)

Are you retarded? You're clever enough to realise "it's fucking obvious" but not enough to realise that "it's fucking obvious" is only the first step of the scientific method, and has been wrong many, many times (do you need examples of "common knowledge" and "common sense" that have been wrong?).

You reckon enough has been studied, but in terms of outcomes there's a big difference between reservoir depletion causing earthquakes, and fracking causing earthquakes. One is a complete cessation of extraction, and the other is a change of method.

Re:Translation? (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605025)

As opposed to what - the problem is solved, so let's decrease funding? The science is settled, so let's not study this anymore?

I swear, some people sound like they think everything should be funded via unicorn farts and rainbows. Yes, research costs money. Pay up, or end up in the dark ages. Of course, if that does happen, you'll find someone or something else to blame but your own shortsighted smugness that automatically equates every human endeavor with your own base motivation: more money.

Insightful my ass.

Strong Correlation... (3, Insightful)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604755)

... but can't yet prove causation. Still, the correlation is significant enough to justify significant caution in the continued use of fracking, and to merit further study on causation. As others have noted, this has the potential to be useful geoengineering, but like many discoveries, it has the potential to be very dangerous. A healthy dose of caution is warranted.

Re:Strong Correlation... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39605119)

Proving causation here would cost billions of dollars. To do a controlled experiment, you first need to put a freeze on all new drilling. Then randomly decide where you're going to drill, and drill there - regardless of whether there's any oil - and see whether the earthquakes happen there or not. Obviously, this is impractical.

What we can do, though, is study mechanisms through which this might have happened.

The Lost Discoveries of Hydralic Fracturing (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604767)

Hydralic fracturing has been applied in many setting since hte late 1940s. Much research, by USGS, BLM et al. in the 1970s established induced seismic activity associated with drilling-mining hydralic fracting activities.

The trouble with the current "enlightned" study is a lack of knowledge of how to search bookstacks, those in a Library, to find the printed USGS bullitens, circulars and research papers since they have not been scanned, parsed and made searchabel by electronic database search technologies.

Thus the Lost Discoveries of Hydralic Fracturing awaite re-discovery by our fearless intrepid internaughts.

Re:The Lost Discoveries of Hydralic Fracturing (0)

maitai (46370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605239)

It's just people panicing over the new evil...

Re:The Lost Discoveries of Hydralic Fracturing (2)

KublaKhan1797 (1240934) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605525)

The trouble with the current "enlightned" study is a lack of knowledge of how to search bookstacks, those in a Library, to find the printed USGS bullitens, circulars and research papers since they have not been scanned, parsed and made searchabel by electronic database search technologies.

Oh, and what do you base this on Mr. 'Anonymous Coward'? Would you like to back up your claims of scientific misconduct or don't you believe in facts either?

Re:The Lost Discoveries of Hydralic Fracturing (3, Informative)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#39606019)

Hydraulic fracturing being invented in 1940s is like saying that hybrid cars were invented back in 1769 with the invention of the first automobile.

What hydraulic fracturing being performed today is a variant that was first tested back in 1991, horizontal drilling. Those prior studied were concerned with fracturing processes that were drilling straight down. Not down then a 90 degree turn for as far as a 15-3000m meters depending on the region. The ends are a set length, the farther down they go the less than go horizontal.

Secondly, the abstract wasn't directly talking about hydraulic fracturing directly, just a way they are using to dispose of their waste, injection wells. So you might be right even if you weren't talking about the wrong type of hydraulic fracturing. Ohio currently suspended parts of the shale industry after they noticed an uptick in quakes linked to injections wells.

So the good news is, for the industry and those supporting the natural gas industry, it is the waste disposal method that seems to be causing the problem, not the production itself.

Who cares? (0, Troll)

Xaer0cool (700219) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604789)

Seriously, unless these earthquakes are causing damage, what's the issue with fracking causing earthquakes? It's interesting science I guess, but to suggest that it should impact energy policy? This study is for earthquakes M>3, when damage in the US isn't likely until M>5.

Re:Who cares? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604817)

its the same problem as using an eraser on a sheet of paper repeatedly. eventually a hole will be worn through as enough layers become damaged. except that sheet of paper is holding in place highly pressurized molten rock. and a hole means a huge volcano blasting millions of tonnes of ash in the air and making one or more cities into rock sculptures with people in them entombed permanently after being burned to a crisp. fun all around. i say we keep going and see what happens.

ION (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604809)

In other news, a connection has been found with talking and vibrations in the air. The real question is whether or not this promotes large earthquakes?

I'm more concerned with the groundwater (5, Interesting)

Grayhand (2610049) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604829)

The earthquakes are all minor but groundwater being poisoned in areas without back up supplies is serious. They keep talking about how there's a layer of rock protecting the groundwater but the fracking shatters that layer of protective rock. It's hard to argue with tap water being flammable. Great we get 10 to 30 years of natural gas and the residents get to shower with bottled water for the next few hundred years. Some of the chemicals used are cancer causing so guess who gets stuck with that bill? Not the gas companies. If it's safe prove it's safe before you frack half the country. This got rammed through with zero oversight. Everyone can say who cares about the midwest but guess what that's where much of your food is grown. Also one of the hottest ares for potentially fracking is the very place New York City gets much of it's water from. Cheap gas may end up as very expensive water. This is about the rich getting richer, period. They were already getting plenty of gas out of the fields this is about getting 3X to 4X as much thus increasing profits. Who gets stuck with the environmental costs in the end? The tax payers. Which do we need more, water or natural gas? Well you can't raise corn and wheat or drink natural gas so I have to come down on the side of water. The gas companies don't care about groundwater because they make their money off gas and not groundwater. If they could charge a $100 a barrel for groundwater it'd be a very different story.

Re:I'm more concerned with the groundwater (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39604881)

The spot n. gas price in US was as low as 80 thanx in large part to fracking
it is 300+ in europe

Re:I'm more concerned with the groundwater (1, Informative)

M1FCJ (586251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605111)

Dream on. The fracking is expensive, not cheap. The only reason it's done is the cheap oil is gone, no more. You've run out of it and you still haven't cut your demand down.

The gas price difference is mainly due to we pay tax on it, you don't.

That all depends on where the fracking is happenin (1, Informative)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605199)

If it's going on a very long way below where the groundwater is then that is a LOT of protective rock instead of the idea of a wafer thin and fragile layer of protective rock.
Hopefully since it's far easier to do horizontal and other directional drilling than it used to be we'll be able to put the fracking discussion in the past anyway.

Re:I'm more concerned with the groundwater (0, Troll)

maitai (46370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605307)

So I'm guessing you watched gasland, which has been dis credited so many times it's silly?

Re:I'm more concerned with the groundwater (0)

maitai (46370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605329)

Shit, I should have written a longer response... You say chemicals although you eat that everyday. Fracking is mostly water, there's some stuff in there for lubricants but it's hardly cancer causing as you've been told Since you don't KNOW what those chemicals are, how do you even know they're cancer causing? Hell, the sun is cancer causing. You really think that companies (oil) are going to do anything to damage themselves?

You're running on conspiracy theory stuff.

They recently lost their court case (-1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604903)

Every rigorous study of fracking has found it to be safe.

And honestly the notion of fracking causing earth quakes is absurd. Just think of the mass we're talking about here. How exactly is a relatively small amount of water being pumped into the ground supposed to destabilize TECTONIC PLATES... It's like suggesting peeing into a hurricane is going to divert the storm.

And just because it has to be said, you know that anti fracking documentary where they show the guy lighting his well water on fire. Well, they were able to do that before the fracking. Look it up. It's been an issue in that area for a long time. They even have special well valves just to avoid the issue. So like most of the michael moore type documentaries... it's crap.

Re:They recently lost their court case (2, Insightful)

Omestes (471991) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604979)

How exactly is a relatively small amount of water being pumped into the ground supposed to destabilize TECTONIC PLATES...

Except no one has ever claimed that it will destabilize plates, since earthquakes can occur for thousands of other reasons that don't directly involve plates. There are still earth quakes in the central continent caused by the lack of glacial pressure, there are earth quakes caused by hot spots, there are earth quakes caused by compression pressures, there are... you get the point. There are areas of the continent completely peppered with faults, far from the nearest plate boundary, this includes vast swaths of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, this is due to compression and expansion, this causes the "basin and range" effect that defines their geography. There are huge amounts of faults in the middle of the old continental core caused by glaciation, and the easing of pressure. Areas are dying lakes generally have tons of faults, for the same reasons. If you Googled a fault map of the US, you'd noticed that we're pretty much completely covered in them, everywhere.

Fracking in increasing the local pressure, which can jar, or lubricate existent faults. This can lead to localized disturbances.

Re:They recently lost their court case (2)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605231)

You're still talking about an absurd amount of mass that is supposedly being moved by a relatively tiny amount of water. It would be like saying you could destabilize a boulder with a child's water pistol. Only even then the ratio is wrong. The masses we're talking about are vastly larger in ratio then that.

I mean lets just do a simple mas relationship. How many megatons is all the earth involved in one of these supposed quakes? Okay, and how many tons of water is pumped into the ground during one of these operations.

I'd be shocked if it were within ten million to ONE.

I'm not a geologist. I just don't see how such a relatively tiny amount of mass can effect a relatively huge mass unless the huge mass ALREADY unstable. And if it's already unstable then the fracking isn't causing the quake so much as triggering something now that would have happened later.

Furthermore, what sort of damage have we suffered so far from fracking related quakes? Any cities leveled? Seriously, can we show any damage what so ever from it? Or are people saying that it shook their house for a couple seconds once when the pump across the street turned on. Because I can believe that. Of course, a large truck driving by will have a similar effect.

Look, the people bitching about fracking are looking for a problem. They want a problem. They don't care if there is a problem in fact, they just don't like fracking because this has gotten political. The Michael Moore people got all hot and bothered about it and now swarms of idiots are attacking it despite the fact that it's doing great things for the US energy market.

Right now natural gas prices are dirt cheap because of fracking. People are heating their homes and paying their utilities less because of fracking. Fracking is killing the coal industry because natural gas is now cheaper then coal. And do you know how much natural gas we have? So much that we can keep burning it without moderation for hundreds if not thousands of years.

So if you have an argument against fracking... make it good. Because it needs to be REALLY good to matter at all.

Re:They recently lost their court case (1)

maitai (46370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605339)

And this is to much true. When'd you hear about fraking? 2 years ago? It's been going on since 1947.. Natural gas is now getting cheap and we now have an abundance of it. So the solar+wind+whatever crowd is now making a new item to bitch about (and they were all for natgas before). This is NOT new, we've been doing it for decades.

Re:They recently lost their court case (2)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604997)

Every rigorous study funded by whom? Remember when every rigorous study of smoking showed that it was perfectly safe?

You seem immediately ready to disregard THIS particular study that might go against what are most likely industry funded studies that show that fracking is safe.

Re:They recently lost their court case (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39605003)

Absurd maybe, but true. I have first hand knowledge i'm afraid. i live right on the west coast of the UK, and this time last year, about 10 miles down south of my house they were fracking (and they plan to again) within 2 days a seismic event occurred, measured at the University about 6 miles inland. IT HAPPENED HERE and no words spoken, typed or any intellectual arguments entered into change the recorded facts.
Many thousands of local inhabitants would strongly disagree about the safety of fracking,Just because you dont see it on the news doesn't mean its not happening. Unfortunately, peoples need for power sources continues unabated, and is unstoppable, indeed it is increasing, and thus the planet is now in turmoil, thousands, maybe millions dead, as certain global interests go and selfishly plunder resources from other countries, This is Global Imperialism. You may not like it, or accept it,it may not fit in your world view, I certainly dont like it, but that doesn't alter the facts i have mentioned. Perhaps if your house shook while the cartels were busy fracking, you may think differently..
message ends
/

Re:They recently lost their court case (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39605033)

Absurd maybe, but true. I have first hand knowledge i'm afraid. i live right on the west coast of the UK, and this time last year, about 10 miles down south of my house they were fracking (and they plan to again) within 2 days a seismic event occurred, measured at the University about 6 miles inland.

Repeat after me:

Correlation is not causation.

Thank you.

Re:They recently lost their court case (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39605107)

bollox

Re:They recently lost their court case (2)

maitai (46370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605229)

By seismic event I guess you mean they picked up something on the scales? Or you read about it on the news, not something you actually experienced? (and note fraking has been going on since 1947, so sure it's not something you've cared about in your lifetime until now that it is a news item)

Re:They recently lost their court case (1)

six025 (714064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605017)

How exactly is a relatively small amount of water being pumped into the ground supposed to destabilize TECTONIC PLATES...

You mean like when a feather (small), lightly brushed across the skin, affects a person (large)?

Sometimes, small things have huge consequences. We don't fully understand the Earth's geology, there are many people with an agenda on both sides of the fracking debate. A ton of money has been invested, and of course: everyone is an expert! This is not a good mix for producing facts.

Peace,
Andy.

Re:They recently lost their court case (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39605085)

You mean like when a feather (small), lightly brushed across the skin, affects a person (large)?

OH MY GOD WE'RE TICKLING THE EARTH!

Re:They recently lost their court case (1)

maitai (46370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605213)

We've been fracking since 1947... it's not something new. So were all other earthquakes caused by it?

Re:They recently lost their court case (1)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605479)

Areas differ geologically. What happens in one area won't necessarily happen in another. Some areas are amenable to the disposal of fracking fluid through deep well injection and others are not. It seems a reasonable assumption that this activity could cause different reactions in different areas.

Re:They recently lost their court case (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39605029)

Every rigorous study of fracking has found it to be safe.

And honestly the notion of fracking causing earth quakes is absurd. Just think of the mass we're talking about here. How exactly is a relatively small amount of water being pumped into the ground supposed to destabilize TECTONIC PLATES...

Ever heard of Hydraulic fluid? You can lift some very heavy objects using just a few ounces of fluid. Tell me, how many hundreds of thousands of gallons of fluid does it take to frak a drill?

Re:They recently lost their court case (1)

MiG82au (2594721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605117)

Thinking that your poor knowledge is any sort of argument is absurd. I started writing more, but it's probably a waste of time.

Re:They recently lost their court case (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605183)

That's true for almost anyone. So by your argument we're not allowed to have opinions on these matters.

Right?

You're wielding a doubled edged sword there, pal. Unless you want to claim elitism you'll find it destroys your position as it destroys mine. And the elitism claim comes with other problems you probably aren't fully aware of...

I'm not an expert in everything. But don't make the mistake of thinking I'm stupid.

Re:They recently lost their court case (1)

MiG82au (2594721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605447)

It's not your lack of knowledge that's unacceptable (that would be elitism), but that you see nothing wrong with calling things absurd despite having little intuition or knowledge for things like pressure x area, lubrication and earthquakes. I'm no expert in these areas, but I know enough to see right through your arrogance. I'll give you an example that is similar to what you've called "absurd": one person can set off an avalanche weighing thousands of tonnes.

Please note that I am not focusing on your lack on knowledge (and hence implying stupidity), rather how you've behaved despite it. Why do you do it? These aren't matters of emotion, where opinion is all you've got to go on.

and coming shortly... (0)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | more than 2 years ago | (#39604991)

...five more reports claiming that fracking has nothing at all to do with seismic events which will serve as the justification for the upcoming change of leadership of the USGS.

After years of nonsense (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605071)

After years of controversy regarding hydrofracking including ground water contamination and disclosure of chemical solutions, the results of the study, if conclusive, could influence the cost of natural gas due to increased regulations on wastewater disposal.

- all this stuff is BS. There is no contamination of groundwater with chemicals, the chemicals are sent through when the casing is built already, there is no groundwater at the depths at which the chemicals are released either.

OK, so this was one way gov't increased production prices and got its bribes, what now?

According to a recently proposed abstract by the United States Geological Survey, hydraulic fracturing, or more specifically the disposal of fracking wastewater, may be directly correlated to the increase in seismic activity in the midwest.

- aha, so releasing gas from under the ground and replacing it with some liquid causes seismic activity? Well, I don't know, it sounds wrong, but I do not know.

However I do know that natural gas is a relatively cheap form of energy, production of which in fact does decrease prices for gas in US, because it's very hard to move gas from the continent to another one to sell (possible, but difficult, it's not oil, it has to be compressed - liquefied first).

I suggest that what USGS is after is a way to get some bribe money, first from government for this study, then from the industry. After all, that's how many of the professional scientists were funded during the time of anti-smoking movement.

I'm from Basel, Switzerland (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39605123)

and I can confirm this

earthquakes (1)

Maimun (631984) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605175)

Human activities (except for nuclear ones) cannot cause serious earthquakes unless there is already sufficient tectonic tension (probably not the right term, I am not a geologist) in the region. I believe that fracking can cause an earthquake but only as a trigger. Just like a firecracker can trigger an avalanche, provided the right conditions for avalanche are already there. In that sense, those earthquakes are "benign" because those regions earthquake-prone anyways; the longer the period of building tension, the worse is the inevitable earthquake that releases it.

Oh give me a fraking break... (0)

maitai (46370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605193)

The greens were all over natural gas until just a few years ago, until suddenly natural gas is the new enemy.

We've been fracking since 1947 and NOW it's a big deal?

Oh yeah, since natural gas prices have dropped and it's sustainable until the rest of my lifetime, now it's the new evil. Seriously?

(my home runs on natural gas, which WAS clean? no? My provider dropped by prices by 1.5% in Nov and again by 5% in Oct)

Seriously, I think they just want us to burn down forests and use wood for heat.

Re:Oh give me a fraking break... (1)

maitai (46370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605201)

I got those months backwards.

Um, duh? (1)

gravis777 (123605) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605215)

And this is really old news. It has been believed that fracking and seismic activity were related for a while now. I could have told you that anyways. Hadn't had earthquakes in my area for decades (probably close to the century mark, but I am too lazy to look it up for sure, and then it was only like one every few decades), but since they started drilling here a couple of years ago, we seem to get one every few months - or rather, one that is measurable. I think the number of really small quakes is actually considerably higher, just too small to register. We have a suspended projector at the chruch. Have for years. Never had any issues at all until they started pumping gas out of our area. Now, about once every couple of weeks, you will see the image on the screen just start shaking very slightly. First I thought it may be because we had the speakers too loud, but this sometimes happens before and after service, or in times of silence during the service. With a projected image 10 feet tall from a projector suspended from an arm attached to the roof of the building, this is probably the only reason I notice them at all - I mean, you really don't see lights shake or anything like that. Figured out that the shaking seems to coincide with the times that they are actually fracking in the area. So, yeah, I think that it actually causes probably more seismic activity than is actually being reported, its just that its on scales too small for most people to even notice.

Look to the story of Northwich, UK (1)

phonewebcam (446772) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605221)

http://www.timetravel-britain.com/articles/towns/northwich.shtml
Salt mining caused houses to collapse sometimes 30 miles from the mines, and even then only after 10 years. It was unimaginably hard on the householders - not much welfare back in those days, and the mine owners similarly wanted proof before doing anything about it. The connection has been fully established now, but the horse bolted that entirely-man made disaster a long time ago.

Thanks USGS - Posting from France (3, Informative)

BlueTak (1218450) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605401)

Hi, I'm posting from the soviet republic of France, guided by the Great and Beloved Leader Nicolas Sarkozy, friend of your former socialist président George Bush. Here, we are fighting against fracking for a couple of years. Of course, we rely on brave american activists for our information, cause your still ahead of us in terms of pollution and destructing environment, but it's even better when scientists bring their share.

when I frack it causes power outages (1)

issicus (2031176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605445)

nt

It's not really a problem (1, Funny)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605539)

It's not really a problem until the Koch family says it's a problem. Besides, if Oklahoma gets turned into a giant sinkhole would anyone really care?

Maybe the econuts are right when they say (1)

steve.cri (2593117) | more than 2 years ago | (#39605575)

don't frack with earth.

Fracking, or more specifically, not fracking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39605665)

It's not about fracking, presto-chango, it's about brine injection wells. If they can't be trusted on that minor detail, why should we trust them on anything else?

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39605925)

A you need "scientific study" for this ? By definition cracking rock under the stress is a seismic activity.

JAM

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