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Earthquakes Correlated With Texan Fracking Sites

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the all-your-fault dept.

Earth 259

eldavojohn writes "A recent peer reviewed paper and survey by Cliff Frohlich of the University of Texas' Institute for Geophysics reveals a correlation between an increase in earthquakes and the emergence of fracking sites in the Barnett Shale, Texas. To clarify, it is not the actual act of hydrofracking that induces earthquakes, but more likely the final process of injecting wastewater into the site, according to Oliver Boyd, a USGS seismologist. Boyd said, 'Most, if not all, geophysicists expect induced earthquakes to be more likely from wastewater injection rather than hydrofracking. This is because the wastewater injection tends to occur at greater depth, where earthquakes are more likely to nucleate. I also agree [with Frohlich] that induced earthquakes are likely to persist for some time (months to years) after wastewater injection has ceased.' Frohlich added, 'Faults are everywhere. A lot of them are stuck, but if you pump water in there, it reduces friction and the fault slips a little. I can't prove that that's what happened, but it's a plausible explanation.' In the U.S. alone this correlation has been noted several times."

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Oh - FRACKING (4, Funny)

jasnw (1913892) | about a year ago | (#41541667)

For a minute there I thought this was a gratuitous shot at The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Re:Oh - FRACKING (1, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#41541733)

The Lone Battlestar State?

Re:Oh - FRACKING (3, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about a year ago | (#41542297)

The Lone Battlestar State?

Meh. That joke was olmos funny.

Re:Oh - FRACKING (4, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#41541797)

Peer review of correlation. Wow. :-)

Fracking probably accelerates seismic disturbance. But I just can't help thinking of yesterday's discussion thread: http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/10/02/1930257/the-history-of-correlation-does-not-imply-causation [slashdot.org]

"Yep! These sure appear to be co-incident, according to the data!"

Re:Oh - FRACKING (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#41542023)

You think maybe earthquakes cause frakking? Or perhaps an oil company exec's decisions cause both frakking AND earthquakes?

While... (5, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#41541669)

I'm not defending fracking, per se, isn't it better to have a bunch of small earthquakes than one big one?

Re:While... (4, Interesting)

avandesande (143899) | about a year ago | (#41541715)

Yes, small earthquakes relieve stress in fault lines. They may actually be doing these communities a favor.

Re:While... (1, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year ago | (#41542083)

Small earthquakes are also symptoms of larger shifts. You do them no favor by inducing them, or allowing their tap water to ignite as natural gas gets pumped up through aquifers.

Re:While... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year ago | (#41542237)

Small earthquakes are also symptoms of larger shifts. You do them no favor by inducing them, or allowing their tap water to ignite as natural gas gets pumped up through aquifers.

Reminds me of someone's pronuciation of this as aqua-fires.

Re:While... (5, Insightful)

pastafazou (648001) | about a year ago | (#41542241)

I don't think you get the point. Their theory states that by lubricating the fault lines with the pumped in waste water, the fault lines are able to slip earlier than they would have without the water. The fault lines already exist, and they already have pressure being exerted as tectonic plates shift. But by lubricating them, they're able to slip with less of a pressure build up. Therefore, the earthquakes will be smaller and more frequent, thus relieving the build up of pressure that results in large magnitude quakes. And for the record, the discussion is about the correlation between fracking and earthquakes. It is not about a conspiracy theory of tap water igniting.

Re:While... (2)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year ago | (#41542305)

I do get the point: fracking enables earthquakes. The hubris is that they predict, small, trivial little, meaningless earthquakes without knowing about the rest of the system's capacity to be influenced by these events.

Those teensy-weensy little earthquakes are just helping things!

Yes: there's a correlation between fracking and earthquakes. Tell me you can vet any information relating to data suggesting that these iddy-biddy earthquakes are just, well, fine! The theory posited sounds like it's right out of a PR manual.

Re:While... (1, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#41542115)

That may be going a little to far, but the simple fact is: the total energy released in earthquakes represents a constant power input. Fracking may change the timing (for better or worse), but it has no effect whatsoever on the input power, or the total release energy over time.

Sometimes I think there's a group of people who just want power to be expensive: they resent technology and the change it brings, and will look for any excuse to insist that cheap power is bad - not on the merits, but truely because they don't want to ever have to change their beliefs as the world changes.

Re:While... (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#41542249)

I want power to be cheap, I want to be able to use as much electricity as a city now uses.

I do not want to pollute the earth to the point were I cannot hunt or fish anymore. I do not want to pay to cleanup these sites after the companies leave.

How about we use sources of power that per unit energy have less environmental costs? Maybe we even require these folks to clean the water instead of just dumping it.

Re:While... (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about a year ago | (#41542301)

Er, the water being unclean is intentional. It is the right mixture to induce fracking. It is not supposed to leak into the water table/river/elsewhere when done correctly. So, as long as we make sure the companies dont cut corners and do fracking correctly, it is all good.

Re:While... (3, Insightful)

Medievalist (16032) | about a year ago | (#41542319)

Sometimes I think there's a group of people who just want power to be expensive

We call them "Texas Oil Barons".

For the cost of reinstalling the slave-holding tyrants of Kuwait, we could have instead built a sustainable, biologically derived methane infrastructure that would deliver more gas at less cost than fracking, while creating career jobs on American soil.

But that would drive the price of Texas Oil down. Way down. Which cannot be allowed!

More frequent but smaller better? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year ago | (#41541731)

This was the same thought I had - better to have the fault slip now when it's a barely feelable ~3.0 than to have it work it's way up to a 6.

Then again, maybe the little slips put more pressure on different areas, and might make the 'big one' more likely.

It'd be something for scientists to work out on supercomputers. Maybe we'll deliberately inject wastewater to trigger that 6.0 before it builds up to that 8-9.

Re:More frequent but smaller better? (1)

SuperMooCow (2739821) | about a year ago | (#41541941)

Just ask these guys [slashdot.org] what happens in their simulation for Texas, USA between 2012 and 102012.

More frequent but smaller IS better! ... FTFY (1)

bobs666 (146801) | about a year ago | (#41542001)

I am Computer Scientist not a Seismologist. But as I understand it getting the input data that described the pressures on the faults for modelling Is not a simple task. In general releasing pressure on a fault line in a controlled manner is a good thing. On the other hand the Goal of fracking is not to reduce earth quakes, its to get natural gas from the ground. Government over sight becomes a political issue and we know where government officials get there money. So we are going to have to hope for the best.

Re:While... (4, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#41541761)

Unless, you're releasing a stable fault to freely move that wouldn't have otherwise. Not something I'd want drillers playing with without real data to know for sure.

Re:While... (2)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#41541885)

What is a "stable fault?" By definition, a fault exists where there is earth movement. It's just a matter of how long it takes for enough forces to build to create a slip.

Re:While... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41541955)

What is a "stable fault?" By definition, a fault exists where there is earth movement. It's just a matter of how long it takes for enough forces to build to create a slip.

A fault exists where there's a big crack in the rock, that's all.

Definition [reference.com] - Geology, Mining . a break in the continuity of a body of rock or of a vein, with dislocation along the plane of the fracture (fault plane).

Re:While... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#41542031)

If it moves when you lubricate it, then there was stress on it.

Re:While... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#41542081)

Or you added stress?
Or you induced a stress in just a small area that now failed and that means more stress is applied to what remains.

It would be nice if you are correct, but we have no such idea and to suggest that is the mechanism is very premature.

Re:While... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#41542283)

If the earthquakes are indeed caused entirely by injecting water and not by any pent up geological stress then there's nothing to worry about. Unless the oil companies are using nuclear pumps (as in bombs), they won't be putting enough energy into the ground to do any serious damage.

Frakking has some potential issues, but earthquakes aren't one of them. The earthquakes caused by frakking range from irrelevant to beneficial.

Re:While... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year ago | (#41542257)

If it moves when you lubricate it, then there was stress on it.

Just add Pennzoil.

Re:While... (1)

poity (465672) | about a year ago | (#41542045)

Layman thinking here, but it doesn't seem like lube should trigger movement in something that's 'stable' (implying zero net force). If lube triggers movement then it wasn't stable.

Re:While... (2, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#41541781)

Don't be apologizing for "defending" fracking. There is nothing wrong with it any more than there is with a million other industrial or mining procedures on which the civilization depends and which would have been equally attacked had the environmentalist movement been around when they were invented.

Re:While... (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year ago | (#41541997)

which would have been equally attacked had the environmentalist movement been around when they were invented.

Unfortunately the movement wasn't, so now we taxpayers get to pay for fixing it [epa.gov] .

Re:While... (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#41542007)

I agree it is just as terrible as mountain topping, and open pit mining that is not filled after use.

I disagree that civilization must rely on these things. There are better ways, they just cost a little more since they tend to internalize costs.

As we can see from your signature you are a hypocrite. Externalizing costs to the rest of society is no different than any other form of socialism.

Re:While... (-1, Flamebait)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#41542097)

Do you even have any understanding about how fracking works? How exactly does the fracking externalize the costs to the rest of the society? What makes you think that being in favor of fracking means that I am also in favor of those companies causing harm to other people and not paying for it? Or are you yet another liberal moron who overheard the word 'externalities' somewhere by chance and now grabs on to it in every conversation regardless of the subject.

Re:While... (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#41542225)

I understand it fine. Here is the externality that occurred in my area:

They fracked an old NatGas well, to do so they pumped water + some relatively safe stuff down the well. Then they pumped that stuff back up, it was now of course highly polluted with various hydrocarbons. Then they dumped the waste water off at a water treatment plant meant for human waste not industrial waste. The water was not properly treated and ended up in our reservoir that our drinking water comes from.

What would you call that?
What would you call the end result of abandoned open pit mine that is full of poisoned water? What would you call the result of mountain topping with the loss of headwaters of streams to both filling and what streams are left being too polluted for fish to live in?

Modern mining practices are one exercise in externalizing costs after the other. They specialize in externalizing as much costs as possible.

Re:While... (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#41542267)

they dumped the waste water off at a water treatment plant meant for human waste not industrial waste. The water was not properly treated and ended up in our reservoir that our drinking water comes from. What would you call that?
 
A multimillion dollar lawsuit. So you are saying that a specific company heavily polluted your drinking water and you can prove it? And you are not besieged by lawyers camping on your front lawn hoping for a percentage of the large damages that you are likely going to be entitled to? Where do you live? China?

Re:While... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41542325)

Careful. Trying to reason or use facts with a conservative moron is asking for a huge headache.

Re:While... (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#41542321)

Just as bad as topping or leaving a pit unfilled?

What can anyone even say to you people?

You are correct Sir (1)

bobs666 (146801) | about a year ago | (#41541893)

Mod parent up.

Re:While... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#41541897)

I'm not defending fracking, per se, isn't it better to have a bunch of small earthquakes than one big one?

Presuming that the small ones are not a precursor to a big one, sure, why not?

I assume the "Best" option of not doing shit that causes earthquakes is off the table...

Re:While... (2)

ichthus (72442) | about a year ago | (#41542017)

It's good that you placed "Best" in quotation marks, denoting that it's not necessarily the best option. Just like not having controlled forest burns would not be the best option to avoid larger, more destructive forest fires.

Re:While... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#41542137)

The concepts of "best" and "worst" are purely subjective - completely dependent on both the topic at hand, and which camp a person sides with.

Perfect example: If you're a commoner in America, major campaign finance reform is the "best" solution to, for lack of a more accurate term, rampant bribery in our election process; however, if you're a politician receiving these obscene amounts of bribes, er, 'donations,' then "best" is probably not a word you would use when talking about legislation that would severely curb your receipts.

Intrinsic understanding of the subjective nature of human thought makes the vast majority of 'arguments' quite hilarious to obverse, IMO (ha, I see what I did there!).

Conversely, it also tends to make political "debates" rather depressing...

Re:While... (0)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a year ago | (#41541921)

What are you, Rush Limbaugh? I bet you denied Global Cooling before Global Warming came along. Now you're trying to claim Global Shaking is a good thing?!

Yup. (1)

publiclurker (952615) | about a year ago | (#41541961)

As long as they feel that they can either profit personally, or get away with not having to pay for the damage they've caused, people like the parent will whore for any group out there.

Re:While... (4)

ichthus (72442) | about a year ago | (#41542147)

Wow. Let's take this piece-by-piece, shall we.

What are you, Rush Limbaugh?

That should be Who are you.

I bet you denied Global Cooling before Global Warming came along.

It's called climate change. Didn't you get the memo? And, this is just a wee bit off topic. Don't you think?

Now you're trying to claim Global Shaking is a good thing?!

Global? I don't know if this was an attempt at a straw man argument, or not. Regardless, if you actually read the GP's post, you'll see that his point is that maybe releasing mini earthquakes is a good thing. Just like having controlled burns in heavily wooded areas is a good measure to take to avoid wild fires later on. All he did was ask a question -- a valid question that merits an answer.

Stop hyperventilating, and attempt to have a logical, rational discussion of the potential benefits or problems of various forms of energy production. Don't be so obtuse.

Re:While... (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about a year ago | (#41541923)

I'm not defending fracking, per se, isn't it better to have a bunch of small earthquakes than one big one?BR I would be inclined to agree, but last year in Oklahoma we had a large number of big quakes for our area. By big I mean 3.0 or higher. We have hundreds per year smaller than that. Anyway, the large number of big quakes was blamed on fracking, including the largest quake we have ever had on record, a 5.6. So it would seem that fracking didn't lead to a larger number of smaller quakes in our case, but a larger number of larger quakes.

Re:While... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#41542055)

There have been unusually large numbers of (largish) quakes everywhere in the last few years. The hypothesis is that the big Indonesian one shook everything up and we're still feeling the effects.

Re:While... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41542135)

No actually it isn't better. For each point in Magnitude the energy is 32 times that of the previous number. So a 2.0 has 32 time the energy of a 1.0 magnitude quake. A 3.0 has 1024 times the energy of a 1.0 ...and so on. Let's put it this way, it would take 32,768 , 5.0 magnitude quakes to equal one 8.0 magnitude quake

Re:While... (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#41542211)

I'm not defending fracking, per se - msauve
I am not one of the sceptics - Mojib Latif
I have black friends - most anyone who discusses race.

What if it was called... (1)

jopsen (885607) | about a year ago | (#41542227)

I'm not defending fracking

I'm wondering why fracking needs defending the first place... Let's just agree that if it had been named horizontal drilling, nobody would have considered it a threat :)

Is there a chance I'm right about this?

Maybe after the "big" earthquake (1)

bobstreo (1320787) | about a year ago | (#41541673)

They can use natural gas generators until FEMA shows up.

Correlation - Causation? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41541689)

We've been here before I'm sure!

Re:Correlation - Causation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41541745)

The science is settled on fracking and earthquakes. We don't need your denialist Nazi bullshtine here... you Nazi!

Re:Correlation - Causation? (4, Funny)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#41541819)

Yet another believer in the big lie that earthquakes don't cause [xkcd.com] fracking. :P

Damage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41541695)

Have any of these earthquakes caused any significant damage? If they were going to happen anyway due to fault stress maybe it's better to induce them early when they will be weaker.

Correlation is not causation! (2, Insightful)

AndyKron (937105) | about a year ago | (#41541705)

Correlation is not causation! Oops, I read you're not supposed to say that anymore.

Re:Correlation is not causation! (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year ago | (#41541799)

Well, in this case, you have a strong case for cause.

While the actual cause of the earthquakes is tectonic and geological stresses, the fracking provides lubrication for these events to occur. Without said lubrication, the quakes don't happen until stresses achieve sufficient strength to move without it. (Eg, major earthquake.)

In this context, the lubrication does indeed incite movement, but the energy for the movement coms elsewhere.

This sort of semantic argument reminds me of schoolkids saying "they didn't do anything!" After egging another kid to punch someone.

Re:Correlation is not causation! (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#41542049)

Why woud you assume the fracking is acting as lubrication instead of just adding some stress to the situation that is already there?

Honestly I don't think we know enough to say what the possible cause or even nature of the relationship would be.

Re:Correlation is not causation! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41541801)

You were never supposed to say that because it makes you look like a pretentious twat.

Re:Correlation is not causation! (4, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#41541805)

But causation does require correlation, along with a reasonable basis for the cause. Maybe something like "if you pump water in there, it reduces friction and the fault slips a little."

Reservoirs (2)

busyqth (2566075) | about a year ago | (#41541707)

Reservoirs are associated with earthquakes too.

What the Frack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41541719)

Frackin' A!

Summary Got it Backwards (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41541735)

Obviously it is the increase in earthquakes that is causing the fracking. Just look at the correlation!

And yet nothing will be done in the long run (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41541743)

Oh please, they could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that fracking, or some part of its process, causes earthquakes, there won't be the slightest change in procedure. After all, that oil's not going to sell itself sitting in the ground there.

Does money ride on an action being taken? If yes, it's absolutely irrelevant what the effects are of it being done, it's going to be done.

Corellation is not causation... (-1, Redundant)

Skewray (896393) | about a year ago | (#41541769)

Sorry, I just couldn't resist.

Stats Fail (-1, Redundant)

lilfields (961485) | about a year ago | (#41541773)

What is rule #1 in statistics? "Correlation does not equal causality."

Re:Stats Fail (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41541851)

> What is rule #1 in statistics? "Correlation does not equal causality."

Yes, you do fail stats.

When a man-made event clearly proceeds some other event, then correlation does imply causation. This is the entire basis of experimental science.

Unless you can show that the earthquakes in the future are somehow causing fracking in the past, then it is causation. If that's the case, then I'm sure there are a couple of Nobel Prizes in it for your discovery of time-travel.

Re:Stats Fail (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#41541991)

When A is correlated with B, there are 3 possibilities. A causes B, B causes A, or both B and A are caused by a third factor C.

So are you claiming that earthquakes cause fracking? Or are you claiming that some unknown third factor causes both earthquakes and fracking? If you don't have any plausible suggestions for either, causation seems like the most likely explanation.

Re:Stats Fail (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year ago | (#41542185)

This case, the "third factor" DOES make sense. Hear me out here.

Natural gas deposits (the reason for the fracking) form from decomposing organic deposits trapped between shale or salt layers. This gas formation creates pressure (the reason for the earthquakes.)

So, the third factor is natural gas deposits.

The incidence of earthquakes will positiviely correlate to natural gas deposits. The incidence of fracking will correlate to natural gas deposits.

The result is a positive correlation between earthquakes and and fracking.

A test of this 3rd factor is easily accomplished, by doing a frack drilling where there is no natural gas as a control. That will provide the needed resolution of causality between fracking and earthquakes.

Re:Stats Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41542209)

Clearly geological composition causes both Earthquakes and Fraking.

In other news... (5, Funny)

Troyusrex (2446430) | about a year ago | (#41541777)

There was a MUCH stronger association between employment and fracking sites.

Re:In other news... (1, Informative)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year ago | (#41541837)

Exactly. The amount of prostitution and drug use has risen dramatically where fracking sites are located.

Not to mention pollution, noise, water contamination, and bar fights.

Though in reality, the local population doesn't get to partake in the upswing in employment because the people running the sites are brought in from elsewhere.

Re:In other news... (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#41542167)

Those people brought in don't buy things? Everything from houses to clothes to food? More people employed in an area means more economic activity, regardless of where the new employees come from. Your other points about violence, drug use, and other forms of crime are perfectly valid of course.

Re:In other news... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#41542289)

Sure they do, but almost all of it is temporary. The real profit goes to places far away. The costs however will be at that location forever. If anything goes bad, the little mining company set up for that site will declare bankruptcy the parent organization will wash its hands of the place and the taxpayer will be stuck with the bill.

For somethings like nuclear power just because of the scale that is the only way it can be, for little natural gas wells this is not the case.

Re:In other news... (3, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#41541935)

First,this result is not new. It has been suspected for a while that the water injection sites might cause small earthquakes. This paper is just another that provides evidence. It is not just a matter of correlation, there are physical paths to causation. It is not that the HIV virus just happens to be every AIDS patient. There is causation.

As far as jobs, this is pretty selectively applied. Windmills will create many construction and long term maintenance jobs. Hydrogen fueling station will create many construction jobs. Niether requires us to pay for fuel at levels that support $70 per barrel, or condemn peoples property for a pipeline, or pollute. There are many ways to work. Some people, like hitmen, have no problems if the jobs are unethical. Others od.

Re:In other news... (2)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year ago | (#41542165)

That means employment causes earthquakes.

Lucky Japs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41541791)

The Japanese better watch out, After last years quake its clearly only a matter of time before they end up with the worlds largest fracking plant in their back yard

hey its time for an election (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41541793)

lets bring in "Most Likely" into the mix. No need to have proof anymore when you're waging an energy war. Meanwhile, lets also complain about the high price of gas.

Re:hey its time for an election (1)

SuperMooCow (2739821) | about a year ago | (#41541957)

I'm still going to vote for Not Sure.

Look on the bright side! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41541813)

We have a potential means for re-introducing tectonic activity on Venus and Mars if we want!

Damn you greeny extremists!! (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#41541847)

Clearly, if we were just allowed to dump wastewater into local rivers and streams, none of these earthquakes would have had to happen. Why are environmentalists objectively pro-earthquake?

Re:Damn you greeny extremists!! (0)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year ago | (#41541915)

No silly. You misunderstand the enviroweenie movement completely!

They aren't exactly "pro-earthquake", so much as they are "anti-development".

Re:Damn you greeny extremists!! (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#41542139)

I believe he was being sarcastic.

Better question, why are they not required to treat the wastewater to the same standards as when they received it?

Then they could dump it into rivers. The problem is they want to just dump this toxic water, which is polluted from the well.

Is asking someone to pay to cleanup their own mess anti-progress? To me it sounds like personal responsibility.

Re:Damn you greeny extremists!! (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about a year ago | (#41542193)

I'm pro-earthquake, and I vote!

Don't fuck with Mother Nature! (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#41541939)

What happened to earth having a fragile ecosystem?

Why is the search for oil so important, that we will risk destroying parts of this fragile ecosystem just to get more?

How much corporate greed are we going to allow before we say enough?

Re:Don't fuck with Mother Nature! (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year ago | (#41541987)

The same reason we kill people with drone warfare, install puppet dictators, export rediculous legislation, and arrest grannies wth unsecured wifi.

The holy doctrine of "don't fuck with the money."

Re:Don't fuck with Mother Nature! (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#41542035)

Why is the search for oil so important, that we will risk destroying parts of this fragile ecosystem just to get more?

When there was a really really large amount of money to be made obtaining it, that can conveniently be partially distributed to the people responsible for deciding whether we should risk destroying parts of this fragile ecosystem.

The US government has demonstrated on several occasions that it's perfectly willing to fight wars for oil as well (regardless of what you think of the latest Iraq War, the earlier Gulf War was without serious question over oil).

Re:Don't fuck with Mother Nature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41542043)

LOL, bet you posted this from your Mac.

Re:Don't fuck with Mother Nature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41542187)

Why is the search for oil so important

So you can sit there at your natural gas powered chinese computer, get fat and bitch about the environment.

Re:Don't fuck with Mother Nature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41542259)

"What happened to earth having a fragile ecosystem?"

Much of it is quite resilient. The subsurface ecosystem is particularly robust, and consists only of bacteria. Earthquakes aren't going to affect the surface ecosystem significantly. Ecosystems already handle natural earthquakes. It's mostly the human stuff that would be affected by earthquakes.

"Why is the search for oil so important, that we will risk destroying parts of this fragile ecosystem just to get more?"

People pay quite a bit of money for oil in order to use it as an energy source. It's cheaper and more transportable than many of the alternatives, and much infrastructure for using it is already in place. In the case of the US, oil is particularly challenging in an economic sense because domestic production covers less than half the demand for it. The biggest conventional oil fields were tapped and have been in decline for many decades in the US. Oil production in the US peaked in 1970. This dependence accounts for much of the desperation that drives development of marginal fields that benefit from hydraulic fracturing to improve the production rates. Putting it simply: "because all the easy-to-obtain oil is already found and on tap".

"How much corporate greed are we going to allow before we say enough?"

As soon as people stop paying for the stuff directly or indirectly, by parking their cars and by using non-fossil-fuel based food production, industry, and transportation.

Which is to say: probably not until it becomes dramatically more expensive and/or runs out, such that alternatives become relatively cheaper.

You don't want the side effects of your extreme addiction to oil affecting fragile ecosystems? Then stop using it. Good luck with that. It won't be easy. Alternatively, strengthen regulations surrounding petroleum exploration and accept that increasing the monitoring and mitigation of those risks will increase the cost. You won't be able to eliminate the risks entirely, of course, which is why the ultimate solution (if that's your desire) is to stop using the product entirely. Unfortunately it's tough stuff to quit cold turkey.

Thankfully, as a non-renewable resource, the problem will eventually take care of itself over the next few decades.

Didn't I see this in the 80's? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41541943)

It must be true...Ian Fleming thought it up! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_View_to_a_Kill

Easy Fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41541965)

Couldn't they just inject some kind of glue with the wastewater? Problem solved.

You mean to say... (1, Insightful)

Lucas123 (935744) | about a year ago | (#41542011)

That if I take a jack hammer to my home's foundation, it may make it less stable? Who would have thought?

Re:You mean to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41542061)

That's not what they were talking about at all but thanks for playing. Maybe next time you can bother to read instead of just making a knee-jerk reaction. It's so hard to take people like you seriously.

Re:You mean to say... (1)

Lucas123 (935744) | about a year ago | (#41542151)

And you think posting snarky retorts as an "anonymous coward" gives you credibility?

Correlation is not causation? Give me a break! (3, Insightful)

Lac (135355) | about a year ago | (#41542069)

The people tagging this story with "correlation is not causation" are a perfect example of what Slate is talking about this week on how silly this meme has become. Ok, so are you saying that the frakking does not cause the earthquakes? What, is it the other way around? No, I'm guessing it's a mythical third factor causing both. Some mystery force is causing both the frakking and the earthquakes. Maybe birds. Who knows? But nothing something correlated!

People, the correlation thing is nice and all, but can we please not forget Occam's rasor? The frakking causing the earthquakes really is the simplest explanation, digging out the correlation argument is just as logical as closing your eyes and singing la-la-la. Proving correlation does not prove causation, but it is a necessary step in doing so, not a logical no-no. Even the scientist quoted in the article is aware of the distinction. There is no "gotcha!" here.

Thank you, Slate. I really had not realized how silly this had become.

Why was research done into this instance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41542093)

Does it not make sense to just look at other instances and reference that? Or does science from around the world and also from the US differ? I thought science was fact and facts are true? Especially by a university, they should have known better considering university students do research into projects. For a grander equivalent example, this is as if I, instead of doing research on Mr Hitler for a university history assignment, built a time machine, went back in time and interviewed him myself. Maybe I'm just too much of a forward thinking hippy hoping that one day we will be a unified planet where we all do and share sciencey stuff together, for the benefit of everyone. Lets face it, the war/science relationship isn't working out too well, back in the old days there was lots of war and death and not much science, but the war and death kept the population down, now we have more of a balanced set up and they are intertwined pretty closely. But this isn't good enough for us really as we're still putting too much effort into the war and death and not enough into friendship and science, and this less amount of war and death means we have a population/resource usage issue to deal with and while war or science can solve it (either by having so many dead that there is enough to go around or that we advance science enough for better usage of resources/find more resources elsewhere). We can't have both at a sustainable amount. When are we going to get our ass in gear and choose one or the other? Hmm, I feel I went a little off topic on this one, AC post it is haha.

But!! MONEY!!!! (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#41542103)

They are making a lot of money!! Don't let things like large scale damage to property and possible loss of life or other environmental concerns interfere with their god-given right to make money!

How long was there denial of the connection between smoking and cancer? Money at stake... much denial resulted.

Global warming? Same thing... still going on

A separation of church and state needs to happen... and by church I mean money... that *IS* their god after all.

Greasing the wheel (1)

jamesl (106902) | about a year ago | (#41542121)

So, instead of one big quake releasing energy built up over a long time, we have a series of small quakes. This is a good thing.

Wastewater, not fracking (1)

hanshotfirst (851936) | about a year ago | (#41542217)

It's not the fracking, its the wastewater. Simply prevent earthquakes by dumping the wastewater on the ground or the nearest river or kiddie pool. What could possibly go wrong?

This article makes it sound like a good thing. (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about a year ago | (#41542245)

'Faults are everywhere. A lot of them are stuck, but if you pump water in there, it reduces friction and the fault slips a little." So rather than massive earthquakes that result from massive energy releases that are stored in faults for long periods of no slipping, hydro fracking causes semi-continuous slipping resluting in smaller but more frequent earthquakes. I don't know about you, but I would rather have a bunch of small earthquakes than 1 massive one. I don't even know if the claim proposed int the article is true. I am saying that if it is true, the fact that hydro fracking causes earthquakes (not the other possible negative effects) is a good thing.

Good Thing ? (1)

cathector (972646) | about a year ago | (#41542253)

IANAG, and i'm no fan of fracking for many reasons,
but inducing small earthquakes seems like a good thing to me.
faults build up pressure, and one way or another that pressure is going to release.
it seems better if it releases in smaller, more frequent events than less frequent but large ones.

This whole thing just seems backwards ... (1, Funny)

KillaBeave (1037250) | about a year ago | (#41542313)

I mean, they are removing OIL and adding WATER. The WATER is lubricating the rocks and causing them to move ... more than the OIL was?

I think I'll run out and replace the oil in my Jeep with some good old H2O!! 20 mpg here I come!!!

/sarcasm
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