×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Scientists Link Deep Wells To Deadly Spanish Quake

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the better-tell-those-guys-in-russia dept.

Earth 118

Meshach writes "Research has suggested that human activity triggered an earthquake in Spain that killed nine and injured over three hundred. Drilling deeper and deeper wells to water crops over the past 50 years were identified as the culprit by scientist who examined satellite images of the area. It was noted that even without the strain caused by water extraction, a quake would likely have occurred at some point in the area but the extra stress of pumping vast amounts of water from a nearby aquifer may have been enough to trigger a quake at that particular time and place."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

118 comments

Span? (4, Insightful)

aitikin (909209) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725429)

Where the hell is Span?

Re:Span? (5, Funny)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725443)

In Euroe

It's too complicated for me to understand ... (5, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725499)

From TPA:

Research has suggested that human activity triggered an earthquake

Umm ...

It was noted that even without the strain caused by water extraction, a quake would likely have occurred at some point in the area

Please pardon me, perhaps I am being too dense to understand the following intricacies:

How can it be that "Human activity triggered an earthquake" when a quake "would likely have occurred at some point in the area" ?
 

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (5, Interesting)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725535)

How can it be that "Human activity triggered an earthquake" when a quake "would likely have occurred at some point in the area" ?

Imagine I pull out a gun and shoot you. Well, you would have died eventually anyway, right?

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41725621)

I think it's more like you pull out the gun, a third party goes to tackle you, and the gun goes off. Is the guy tackling a murderer?

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (5, Interesting)

StormyWeather (543593) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725623)

the interesting question is if triggering it sooner made it less severe or more severe.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (5, Interesting)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725765)

There is also a question of location. Drilling for water in populated area may have shifted epicenter of the quake closer to the population center in question.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41726265)

Less severe, because there's less energy released.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (5, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#41726417)

Legally the only question is if this makes the people doing the drilling responsible for the damage caused by the earthquake. In previous cases involving things like erosion the answer has generally been "yes", even if the damage was inevitable.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41727777)

No this is not too complicated: US-TVA put monitors of earthquakes in for Fontana Dam because the math expeced it to produce quakes upwards to about 4-4.5 range on about a 5-10 year frequency. It pretty much has followed the math with a few errors of course but basically the estimate was based upon weight of water gain/loss over life of the lake. This is no different in Spain or anywhere else. When one looks at oil/gas explorations one sees massive water withdrawals and injections and similar results. The argument that there is any question about this is only made by persons not familiar with the industries involved and by silly lawyers who try to defend nasty miscreants.

The more precise term for this quake is not man triggered but man caused. It was of the magnitude and location to match the water withdrawals. The reason that not all mass shifts of this variety produce the exact same results is that there are geological differences both in locations and in time. This is rather like the aging of a bridge by loading and unloading causing its eventual failure. Unfortunately the science isn't good enough yet to tell under which car or how much load will bring down the bridge. The arguments by those opposed to recognizing these are man caused events are largely like going to a casino and arguing that since the probabilities chart predicts a win at a certain number of games, and seeing it didn't happen exactly at that time that the probabilities math is wrong.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (5, Interesting)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725629)

Eh, I'd prefer to use the analogy of pushing a boulder down a hill at his house, rather than waiting for erosion to do it a few years later. With a gun, you're changing how it happens and introducing all sorts of other complications. Even better, if we want to remove intent from the equation, maybe my house was next to the boulder and I left a hose running, which washed away the dirt under the boulder, leading to its cascading down the hillside into his house. While naturally-occurring erosion would've done the same job eventually, I just helped it along with some human-caused erosion.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (1, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725901)

Draining a water basin leads to actual, serious problems such as desertification and subsidence of land. One doesn't need to invent new risks.

While naturally-occurring erosion would've done the same job eventually, I just helped it along with some human-caused erosion.

Or maybe you didn't and the boulder fell when it would have fallen anyway. Correlation isn't causation and all that.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41727119)

Not an accurate analogy, If I understand the circumstances correctly it is more like living in a building with a bomb (earthquake possibilities) hidden somewhere on an unknown timer. Everyone knows its there, it could go off tomorrow or 50 years from now, but people continue to live there even knowing there is a risk (low rent, social inertia, who knows why). One day a crew installing some network cable/tv lines/etc hit it and accidentally set it off. Do you blame them for setting it off earlier than would have? It would have happened sometime, and with building increasing in age it likely did less damage now than if it had gone off several decades later.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#41728457)

Earthquakes are technological, not natural, disasters anyway. People die because buildings and bridges collapse.

The worst quake in the continental US was in Tennesee, not California. Those cities don't have much in the way of earthquake codes.

Gonna make for some riviting TV one of these decades. :(

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (3, Informative)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725545)

Please pardon me, perhaps I am being too dense to understand the following intricacies:

How can it be that "Human activity triggered an earthquake" when a quake "would likely have occurred at some point in the area" ?

The difference is in the timing, what with human activity triggering it to happen now, or it happening on its own in a few hundred years in the future.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (3, Informative)

cheater512 (783349) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725581)

Most quake prone areas have a frequency in single digit years, not hundreds of years.
Hell the bad areas can have quakes on a monthly or weekly basis.

Humans don't cause quakes, we can only trigger them.
The stress was there with or without the pumping, and that stress must be relieved.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725801)

Humans don't cause quakes, we can only trigger them.
The stress was there with or without the pumping, and that stress must be relieved.

Why're you telling me this? I never claimed anything like that.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (0)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725823)

But you were throwing out that humans moved it up a few hundred years.
An equally stupid statement.
You were not stupid for the last thing the GP said.
Grats. You are only stupid for trying to spin things to make man "evil".
I say sue the guys drilling for water. Let the fucking pesants walk to fill their buckets at the river.
That will teach them.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41725841)

They didn't spin anything. Stop being an oversensitive weenie.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year and a half ago | (#41728433)

By "they" I take it you mean someone other than the poster I was replying to?
Because the posters use of "Hundreds of Years" in her previous post is in fact a spin. Based on no facts and pointed in the direction that poster agrees with.
have a nice day.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (2)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about a year and a half ago | (#41726063)

But you were throwing out that humans moved it up a few hundred years.

It was just to make the point that humans triggered it to happen now instead of later.

You are only stupid for trying to spin things to make man "evil".

Where? I didn't take a stance either way in the whole thing. Geesh. You sure are oversensitive over this.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year and a half ago | (#41728477)

Right.
Where did you get "Hundreds of Years"?
First, Spain has it share of earthquakes.
In May of 2011 of course they had one that killed 9 people.
In 1956 they had one that killed 12.
They have them much more frequently than every few hundred years.
So with no fact to support your statement and facts going against it why would you assume such a long period if not to put more weight on "Bad People"?

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41728407)

I do not believe the article, which says 250 meters. That is much too shallow to cause what they claim.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (-1, Troll)

cheater512 (783349) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725955)

Don't care to defend what you did say?

I'm sorry. I assumed I was talking to an idiot so I was explaining how it all works very clearly.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about a year and a half ago | (#41726073)

There's nothing to defend. I just said humans triggered the thing to happen now instead of it happening on its own at a later date, nothing else.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41726375)

Spain isn't a quake prone area.
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/world/historical_country.php#spain
Hundreds of years is not an unreasonable scale.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (2)

Alioth (221270) | about a year and a half ago | (#41726955)

This isn't really a quake prone area (that's to say, prone to quakes of any significant strength). You can tell by the age of the buildings - don't forget that this city is hundreds of years older than the United States, and many of its buildings (that are NOT built in earthquake-proof manners) have stood for centuries. The castle, built over 1200 years ago, suffered structural damage to its ancient walls. So it's entirely possible that the quake was triggered hundreds of years early. It's also possible that the epicentre and strength of the earthquake may have been different due to the water extraction, and it was described to have been "unusually shallow" so the severity (in terms of damage) may have been elevated compared to if it had happened at its natural date.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#41728615)

There doesn't seem to be any evidence that human activity triggered this earthquake. As the authors of the research note, this is an earthquake prone area. So one would sooner or later expect an earthquake in the area where it occurred.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41725555)

Translation: Humans cause it to happen *earlier* then it would have occurred naturally. They acted as the last triggering point rather then the natural stress buildup.

Adding stress when stress is already slowly building up is the same as this example.

A cup put underneath a running faucet. You adding extra water into the cup causing it to spill. That means that you caused it to spill, even if we know the cup would spill anyways due to the running faucet.

As for if this was a bad thing or not, who knows. It's possible that the extra stress could have cause the earthquake to be weaker then it would have been if it just slowly buildup to even higher levels. It could have also make the quake stronger compared to say if it naturally just caused several quakes instead of 1 giant one. Since it didn't occur naturally, it's all what ifs at this point.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41725969)

Ultimately it's a good thing. These stresses build up over time and you don't normally get an earthquake just once, you get a series of them over long periods of time. For instance if you have enough pressure built up to give you a magnitude 7 earthquake and have the earthquake it takes a long time for enough pressure to build up to give you another magnitude 7 earthquake there. And still longer to get a magnitude 8 quake.

If we could ever figure out how and where to trigger quakes you could potentially manage them. In practice anything much below 6 shouldn't cause much damage assuming you have a halfway competent building code. And anything under 4 should never be mentioned except in the odd case where there's something else significant about it. Even a magnitude 5 is barely worth mentioning as there's rarely any damage that results from it.

OTOH, that only applies to deeper quakes, if it's more shallow that may or may not remain correct.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (5, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about a year and a half ago | (#41726249)

This one's a bit different from the quakes caused by fracking. In fracking, they just fracture the rocks and inject a fluid, basically lubricating the ground. There's almost no energy added to the system. So while the fracking may trigger a quake, it is not the root cause (all the energy released was already there). Any energy released from a fracking quake is energy which was already there.

In this one they removed large quantities of water from the aquifer. While technically no energy was added to the system, the water's removal lowered the potential energy floor, essentially adding the potential energy of the now-too-high ground to any stress energy which had already been built up (if any).

An analogue to this case would be sinkholes caused by extracting or receding water from underground aquifers/caves. The removal of the water itself directly causes the sinkhole, or in this case the quake. Depending on the quantity of water removed (and thus the distance the ground above had to "settle"), there might not even have been any natural fault slippage involved, and this quake could have been entirely manmade.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (2)

Jartan (219704) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725615)

In English the word "triggered" is not related to cause. Humans merely finished tipping a wobbling domino.

Attention All Humans! (3, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725763)

Stop! Drop whatever it is you are fucking doing RIGHT NOW because whatever it is, some scientists you are going to fuck some other shit up.

Just freeze and don't move, or we're all going to fucking DIE!

Re:Attention All Humans! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41726089)

Some scientists may have stolen part of that sentence.

Re:Attention All Humans! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41726551)

Never post under the influence!

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41725937)

Someone hands you a loaded gun. You pull the trigger. Eventually the gun probably would have gone off anyway, but you were the one to pull the trigger.

Had the trigger gone off later, then perhaps people might have had a chance to take cover first. But, you pulled trigger early, so people got hurt.

Explanations aside... I still think that people would've been hurt, because we're not yet good at taking cover from earthquakes.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (2)

xenobyte (446878) | about a year and a half ago | (#41726393)

Please pardon me, perhaps I am being too dense to understand the following intricacies:

How can it be that "Human activity triggered an earthquake" when a quake "would likely have occurred at some point in the area" ?

It's the Global Warming standard. If Human Activity can cause something, it is beyond any doubt or hesitation Human Activity that's at fault. It doesn't matter if other causes are more likely, nor that similar Human Activity has been done for decades elsewhere with no ill effects. Oh, and Occams Razor be damned.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (1)

Jeppe Salvesen (101622) | about a year and a half ago | (#41726721)

Imagine a bucket hanging from a string that will snap once the bucket is full. You hang it from a branch, so that it will be filled by rain water.

Then, before it is full, you cut the string using a scissor.

This is perfectly analogous to what happened in Spain.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (1)

dissy (172727) | about a year and a half ago | (#41726973)

How can it be that "Human activity triggered an earthquake" when a quake "would likely have occurred at some point in the area" ?

Would a car example help?

Say you fill up your tank, and a full tank will get you roughly 150 miles of driving.
It is a fact that your car will run out of fuel after roughly 150 miles of driving.

If I come along and siphon out most of your fuel, say to put into my car, then you will run out of fuel after driving only a few miles instead.

On the one hand, you are claiming it is OK that I stole your fuel, since you would have run out of fuel without my "help" anyways.
The rest of us are claiming I can not use that as a legit excuse for stealing your fuel, since you would have been able to drive further had I not taken any fuel, despite the fact you will run out of fuel either way.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (1)

gomiam (587421) | about a year and a half ago | (#41727261)

Actually, there were two suggested effects of excessive water extraction:
  1. Descent of the soil, which changed the stresses affecting the fault that ultimately produced the earthquake. Thus there was an effect on the timeline of the earthquake, which would have happened later if not so much water had been removed
  2. Localized growth of the fault stresses bringing them closer to living areas. Thus an earthquake that could have had its epicenter farther from Lorca had it near the town

I hope this helps you understand that massive water extraction acted as a catalyst for the impending (for some values of impending) earthquake and as a magnifier of its destructive power by bringing it nearer to populated areas.

Re:It's too complicated for me to understand ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41727471)

Reading slashdot is almost impossible with karma whores like you dog-piling onto the first post.

Re:Span? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41725471)

I could say preceded by Spic but that would be a derogatory term for someone of Spanish origin.

Re:Span? (5, Funny)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725473)

It's where the ran falls manly on the plan.

Re:Span? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41726007)

I've never been to Spain, but I kind of like the music

Re:Span? (2)

Psychotria (953670) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725489)

Where the hell is Span?

It is country named by scientist. In fact, scientist was the same as culprit.

Re:Span? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41725525)

TFA says it was a "deadly Spainish quake".

OK I get that there were similarities, but where did the quake take place?

Re:Span? (4, Funny)

guttentag (313541) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725529)

Where the hell is Span?

Google says it's between a rock (Gibraltar) and a hard place to publish Web search results (France [slashdot.org] ).

Re:Span? (1)

Maow (620678) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725759)

Where the hell is Span?

A province in the country of Spic, duh. Never heard of Spic & Span?

Re:No, I haven't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41725985)

I've heard of Spic in Span though. Is that where you're thinking of?

Re:No, I haven't. (3, Interesting)

Maow (620678) | about a year and a half ago | (#41726019)

I've heard of Spic in Span though. Is that where you're thinking of?

No, Spic and Span [wikipedia.org] is what I meant.

Although it appears that it's seen on the official web site's [spicnspan.com] title as Spic 'n Span, but that's missing an apostrophe. The product appears to say Spic and Span.

Like how people abbreviate "until" to "till" instead of "'til" - missing the apostrophe and adding a letter L, making it a different word (till as in cash till, or verb: to till the land, etc.)

Or, better example, Rock 'n Roll.

Interesting tidbit from World Wide Words [worldwidewords.org] , via Wikipedia:

A spick was a spike or nail, a span was a very fresh wood chip, and thus the phrase meant clean and neat and all in place, as in being nailed down. The "span" in the idiom also is part of "brand span new," now more commonly rendered "brand spanking new."

Re:Span? (5, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725921)

Where the hell is Span?

Relevant citation:

The dwarves delved too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-dûm

Re:Span? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41727001)

As noted in the headline, in this case the problem is the Deeper Well and whatever beings they disturbed in their slumber.

Austerity (1)

istartedi (132515) | about a year and a half ago | (#41726077)

Budget cuts, you know. Because the MF, the pean Central Bank and the Word Ban won't give you any more lans unless you turn over a letter or two. Maybe they can buy a vowl from Vanna and Pat. OK, that's all 've got...

Re:Span? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41726591)

Where the hell is Span?

Spanish expeditions made possible Europeans to colonize America as Cristobal Colon discovered that continent in one of them. I can't understand how is it possible that there is slashdot readers who don't know where Spain is.

Re:Span? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41728931)

Dear Colleague,

In most anonymously and certainly coward fashion, allow me to post a simple onomatopoeia that most likely defines the situation of your reply; as related to the original post:

"whoosh"

P.S. You may want to count the number of characters for the country name referred to in the original post.

Sincerely,

AC

Re:Span? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#41728591)

It is usually in HTML where you have some formatting that break the normal flow of the page. While deprecated by the DIV tag for most usage. it is still there. For the most part it is fairly useless, However if you add CSS to it. you can do additional formatting with it.

Re:Span? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41728907)

<span/> usually comes in between the <body/> tags.

In other news... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41725445)

Research has suggest that in most cases, murder is directly related to getting out of bed.

Re:In other news... (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725595)

So let's give people six-shooter alarm clocks. If it's a foregone conclusion, what's the harm in expediting the process?

Re:In other news... (1)

xenobyte (446878) | about a year and a half ago | (#41726427)

Research has suggest that in most cases, murder is directly related to getting out of bed.

Actually death has been linked to life. Research has showed that every single death is the result of being alive. Nobody has died from being not-alive and nobody dead has died again. Life can therefore be said to be a fatal sexually transmitted disease.

Undeath and zombiism were not included in the research, mainly due to lack of available undead creatures and zombies.

Re:In other news... (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about a year and a half ago | (#41726931)

Actually death has been linked to life. Research has showed that every single death is the result of being alive. Nobody has died from being not-alive and nobody dead has died again.

Yes, but he was talking about murder, not death in general. To both of you then I can add that murder in particular is directly related, in 100% of cases, to humans. Hence, the best way for us to get rid of murder is to get rid of human beings, the main advantage afterwards being that no one (or, rather, nothing else) will ever die from murderous causes again.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41726751)

Chillax on the kneejerk reaction. Just because you read "drilling" and "triggered quake" doesn't mean they're talking about fracking. Slow down, quick draw.

Span (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41725457)

Where is Span?

Re:Span (0)

chronokitsune3233 (2170390) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725485)

See aitikin's comment thread [slashdot.org] , where the same question was asked, for some possible answers.

Re:Span (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725519)

I can't be bothered to read anything on the topic. I must post something, now!

However, in order to seem relevant, I will post a link [slashdot.org] to something on the Internet, so that my post seems like a reasoned, researched, reply.

Anthropogenic Earthquake Theory (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41725609)

The Anthropogenic Earthquake Theory is a myth! There is no evidence that mankind's efforts have any effect whatsoever on earthquakes! Face the facts, people, Earth is big, man is small! There is no way that these--

  Wait, did you say water wells?

  Oh. Nevermind.

So the well drilling actually helped! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41725657)

If they had not drilled the wells, the pressure would have grown greater and when the quake happened it would have been a stronger quake. Silly article headline!

Re:So the well drilling actually helped! (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725891)

If they had not drilled the wells, the pressure would have grown greater and when the quake happened it would have been a stronger quake. Silly article headline!

Or maybe not - maybe there would have been a series of smaller quakes that released the energy more gradually. Do you have some evidence that shows that human-induced quakes are of lower intensity than natural quakes?

Drilling deeper and deeper. (5, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | about a year and a half ago | (#41725887)

That also means that they are consuming more water than what is replenished each year, which in the long run may be a more important issue than a quake every 25 years or so.

Re:Drilling deeper and deeper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41725977)

Mod this post up. This issue applies to a lot of resources that we are using up faster than they are replenished, or faster than we can find new sources. Water and oil are probably the 2 most important. Soil, forests, coal, and minerals also come to mind.

Global warming, political squabbles, and other man made disasters pale in comparison - even if they contribute to the above.

Re:Drilling deeper and deeper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41726313)

+1

Mod up!

Re:Drilling deeper and deeper. (1, Insightful)

Herve5 (879674) | about a year and a half ago | (#41727569)

Indeed, this is the kind of fact that that is at the same time disclosed and unknown, or maybe we don't want to know, or then it's buried in the many and silly non-informations in the Ecology area.

Emptying regional aquifers to raise cherries one month before the other European countries has been a national sport in Spain for dozens of years.
And this clearly results in documented papers which show all the other cultures (orchards...) had to be progressively abandoned, in favor of less and less demanding crops.

I remember one guy listing the successive crops his region switched to, by order of increasing robustness vs drought. It seems the only next step now is desert-resistant varieties. One can imagine how food capacity follows the track.

Why this kind of paper albeit true doesn't make news headlines is a mystery for me. Maybe there are too many others. Maybe nobody is interested in knowing which crops are raised in this remote area. Maybe there are more flashy e-co-lo-gi-cal news, that leave you think one can solve it all by taking quick a decision now.
Spain depleted aquifers for 50 years is an issue nobody can quickly solve now, we only can decide to change during the next 50 years.
And 50 years is no interesting horizon to politicians, and maybe to many of us...

We already exceed global H20 replenishment rate (1)

bd580slashdot (1948328) | about a year and a half ago | (#41728213)

According to Jeff Fulgham, the CEO of Banyan Water and the ex-lead of General Electric's ecomagination division, the global replenishment rate is about 4,200 km3 while 2010 use was at least 4,300 km3. This is only possible by drawing down surface reserves like lakes and aquafirs.

Water use also limits the amount of CO2 that we can sequester in soils and plants to an additional 500 GT or so because we'll sequester water with it and not have enough for us. 500 GT is about 15 years worth at the current burning rates. IIRC (Rockstrom et al I think ... too lazy to check).

Usually caused by adding water (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41725941)

Human-induced earthquakes are usually caused by water injection, or more precisely by increasing pore fluid pressure which in turn has the effect of decreasing the rock's confining pressure. Basically, the water inside the rock pushes out in all directions with a (typically very high) pressure related to the height of the water column in hydrostatic communication with it above. The rock above is also pushing down, but other considerations aside, this confining pressure from the weight of the rocks tends to lock faults together preventing them from moving. The effective confining pressure is reduced by the pore fluid pressure pushing the rock apart. If you add to the water column the extra weight of the water may be minuscule compared to the increase in pressure caused by the greater height of the water column. That extra pore water pressure can then allow other forces, previously held in check by the rock's confining pressure, to break the fault causing an earthquake.

The most common place for this to occur is in filling new reservoirs and in deep waste injection wells used for disposal of fluids from oil and gas production. Suck quakes are usually very small, but I think they've been observed in rare cases above magnitude 5.

Removing water is a much less common cause of earthquakes. Pumping, for both water and oil, can ground subsidence, but rarely earthquakes. It will, however, subtly affect the balance of forces on a fault, so it's not inconceivable that it could cause a fault already near the breaking point to slip. I'd be curious to see the fault geometry and movement on the fault that caused the earthquake in Span.

Re:Usually caused by adding water (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41726959)

Just remember kids: fracking is totally safe, and everything else the oil and gas industries do is totally safe. Never mind that other things along the same lines can be dangerous, your multinational corporations would never lie to you.

Re:Usually caused by adding water (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41726997)

Water's mobility and "metamorphic" influence might be more relevant than its weight. The "soil column" above the reservoir level tends to weigh more than water. The underground structures that don't collapse tend to maintain their forms and voids. Water at great pressures might act as an infiltrating lubricant. It also could affect the ground's "phase-diagram" balance at that point. My 2c.

Re:Usually caused by adding water (2)

camg188 (932324) | about a year and a half ago | (#41728567)

Another thing I noticed: The article claims [no citation given] that the water table has dropped 250m in the past 50 years, but according to the USGS [usgs.gov] the quake epicenter was 1km below the surface. So unless the region started off with a water table below 750m (very doubtful), the epicenter was still below the water table.
Also according to the same USGS page, the root cause was (no surprise) plate tectonics:

The southeastern Spain earthquake of 11 May, 2011, occurred within the plate boundary region that separates the Eurasia and Africa (Nubia) plates. At the longitude of the earthquake, the Africa plate moves NW with respect to the Eurasia plate with a velocity of 6 mm/yr.

Achtung ! (0)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about a year and a half ago | (#41726057)

Yeah, all fun and games. Just keep digging. Have a little fiesta and call it cute. Then, watch, ..just watch -- as after you puncture the pristine hymen of New Swabia [wikipedia.org] , a vicious horde of extremely irate Vril [wikipedia.org] ascend from the holes, sporting swastikas and saucers -- and turn you all into subterranean bratwursts. Ja? You get it? Trust me, we don't want to start this shit again.

Spainish, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41726633)

I can't believe the article actually DOES use the incorrect Spainish. I'd read all the comments and just assumed it was a big joke.
I'm hoping it actually was, you do all realise that the correct term for someone from Spain is Spanish right? A Spanish town, the Spanish language, etc. I only ask because apparently the editors over at CTV News don't in fact know!

ITALIAN CALDERA DISATSRE IN NAPLES-CAMPI FLEGREI (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41726685)

MAD MEN , driven by the religion of PROFIT are DRILLING UP TO 500 mts down into the CAMPI FLEGREI CALDERA, basically to set up a PRIVATE but local$$$ politician ba$ed and sponsored (CAMORRA ANYONE ???) geothermal sysems.

NOw I am a INGNORANT COW but it seems to me if you are drilling ont a ACTIVE PRESSIURE COOKER and the depth is so shallow A BIG BANG MIGHT OCCURR ANY TIME NOW...

IGNORNT COW

Water Monopoly Corporate Press Release (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41726961)

We humbly thank our adored crass malignant greed-bloated corporate water overlords at Bechtel, Halliburton, and others, for this inspiring morsel of indoctrination which we are, undoubtedly, cravenly unworthy of, woeful wretches that - but for their enlightened care - we certainly be.
Its like the old west. The big big homestead-gobbling rancher baron gets all the water. And makes it illegal for the small farmer to dig a well or irrigation ditches. He graciousle concedes to sell or "give" him some, of course. And every good peasant knows that "grace" duty goes a looong way all tghe way up to Droit de Seigneur.

a quake would likely have occurred? (0)

hAckz0r (989977) | about a year and a half ago | (#41727233)

Here, Let me fix that sentence for them:

a [stronger] quake would likely have occurred...

Yes, since the quake happened now, it would not be more powerful later. We should thank the person who triggered this one so the pressure did not keep building up for and even more catastrophic event. Maybe we should develop such equipment over here so that we can trigger smaller scheduled quakes in the California area. Triggering them on a timed schedule so that people could be prepared and take necessary precautions is one way to keep the fatalities low. If you can't prevent them, then perhaps we can trigger them on a regular basis and reduce their magnitudes.

Deep Wells (1)

rossdee (243626) | about a year and a half ago | (#41727383)

If the wells go all the way to New Zealand then you know they've gone too far

There have been quakes in New Zealand too.

Water Table Lowered 250 Meters! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41727601)

The stunning bit for me was where the article stated that the water table in that area had been lowered by 250 meters(!) over the 50 year period.

Re:Water Table Lowered 250 Meters! (2)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about a year and a half ago | (#41727807)

Yes, I also find it hard to believe that they've drawn down water 1/4 kilometer. That is just amazingly bad.

The other hard-to-believe is how a 5.1 earthquake did so much damage. How poor are the building standards in Spain?

Re:Water Table Lowered 250 Meters! (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about a year and a half ago | (#41728355)

Two things to consider

1: What really matters is not the absoloute strength of the quake it's how the strength compares to what those writing the building regs at the time of construction thought was likely to happen.
2: In europe we generally build are buildings to last and have been building them for a long time. Many people live in buildings that were built long before the rise of modern building regulations.

* Yes I know there were natives arround before that but afaict they didn't build much in the way of lasting structures.

Can we please not call them "scientists"? (1)

superwiz (655733) | about a year and a half ago | (#41728421)

Either they have better evidence than justifies a "maybe" or the suggestion is completely absurd. Just another two things happened in the same place so once of them must have caused the other. This is garbage. It's not even correlation v causation. They haven't even shown correlation. It's just garbage.

5.1! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41728683)

NO ONE dies from a 5.1 Quake in California.

We had one in Kings City this weekend, no damage and no injuries.

WTF do they build houses out of in Spain? Dirt and shit?

Even South America builds houses that can take a 5.1 quake!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...