Dallas earthquake not caused by fracking… And neither was the Ohio quake.

Guest post by David Middleton

Wow! I woke up Friday morning to news that a 2.0 Md earthquake struck about a mile and a half from my office. I was sleeping at home, about 7 miles from the epicenter, and it didn’t even wake me up. Thirty years as an exploration geophysicist, and I sleep right through my first earthquake!

That morning, I arrived at work and found my office in total disarray – So the quake didn’t do any damage…

Figure 1. Dallas earthquake location and details (USGS)

Now… I have yet to hear any journalists, politicians or college professors link this quake to fracking… But I figure they will. So I’ll just preemptively shoot that bit of junk science down. Fracking can trigger extremely minor earthquakes. A 2.0 Md quake is in the realm of possibilities. However, there aren’t any active wells within a 5 km radius (Davis et al., 1995) of this particular quake.

Figure 2. Evil Barnett Shale Play and Dallas earthquake. (Texas Railroad Commission and USGS)

Now that I’ve preemptively debunked that bit of junk science, let’s go to Ohio. Every morning I like to check the Real Clear Energy website. It’s a nice compendium of energy news and also includes a fair bit of AGW nonsense. So it’s often a good source for blogging material. Well, this bit of nonsense caught my eye…

Figure 3. Real Clear Energy

So, I clicked the link to the Scientific American article and this is what I saw…

Figure 4. Not very Scientific American

At least they had the scientific integrity to mention that the quake was likely triggered by the wastewater injection well and not actually triggered by the fracking.

The Oklahoma Geological Survey recently examined (Holland, 2011) the possible relationship between a swarm of micro-quakes and a fracking operation in Garvin County OK. They concluded that the fracking could have triggered the 1.0 to 2.8 Md temblors. However, the quakes were so insignificant that it was almost impossible to precisely locate the hypocenters. The quakes could have been within 5 km of a fracking operation, they could have been small enough to have been triggered by the fracking operation and they occurred right after one fracking operation. However, the area has frequent seismicity of similar magnitude and no other fracking operations in the field’s 60+ year history have been correlated with induced seismicity.

Figure 5. Southern Oklahoma Earthquakes from 1897-2010 (modified from Holland, 2011)

After a bit of modeling, Holland was able to place the hypocenters of the temblors along a fault, within 5 km of an active fracking operation.

Figure 6. A possibly fracking-related earthquake swarm (modified from Holland, 2011)

Holland’s conclusion was that there was a 50-50 chance that these micro-quakes were triggered by the fracking operation in the Picket Unit B Well 4-18.

Figure 7. Holland's conclusion (Holland, 2011)

One person reported feeling these quakes. Md 1.0 to 2.8 quakes are Category I on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale

Figure 8. Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (USGS).

You have to get up to more than Md 3.5 before quakes deliver “vibrations similar to the passing of a truck.” The non-palpable seismicity that might result from fracking is less than that of a seismic crew shooting a survey. Fracking can’t cause larger quakes…

Oklahoma Earthquakes Stronger Than Fracking Tremors, Experts Say

By SETH BORENSTEIN and JONATHAN FAHEY 11/ 7/11

WASHINGTON — Thousands of times every day, drilling deep underground causes the earth to tremble. But don’t blame the surprise flurry of earthquakes in Oklahoma on man’s thirst for oil and gas, experts say.

The weekend quakes were far stronger than the puny tremors from drilling – especially the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing.

[...]

The magnitude-5.6 quake that rocked Oklahoma three miles underground had the power of 3,800 tons of TNT, which is nearly 2,000 times stronger than the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

The typical energy released in tremors triggered by fracking, “is the equivalent to a gallon of milk falling off the kitchen counter,” said Stanford University geophysicist Mark Zoback.

In Oklahoma, home to 185,000 drilling wells and hundreds of injection wells, the question of man-made seismic activity comes up quickly. But so far, federal, state and academic experts say readings show that the Oklahoma quakes were natural, following the lines of a long-known fault.

“There’s a fault there,” said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle. “You can have an earthquake that size anywhere east of the Rockies. You don’t need a huge fault to produce an earthquake that big. It’s uncommon, but not unexpected.”

[...]

In the past, earthquakes have been linked to energy exploration and production, including from injections of enormous amounts of drilling wastewater or injections of water for geothermal power, experts said. They point to recent earthquakes in the magnitude 3 and 4 range – not big enough to cause much damage, but big enough to be felt – in Arkansas, Texas, California, England, Germany and Switzerland. And back in the 1960s, two Denver quakes in the 5.0 range were traced to deep injection of wastewater.

[...]

Holland, who has documented some of the biggest shaking associated with fracking, compared a man-made earthquake to a mosquito bite. “It’s really quite inconsequential,” he said.

Hydraulic fracturing has been practiced for decades but it has grown rapidly in recent years as drillers have learned to combine it with horizontal drilling to tap enormous reserves of natural gas and oil in the United States.

About 5 million gallons of fluid is used to fracture a typical well. That’s typically not nearly enough weight and pressure to cause more than a tiny tremor.

Earlier this year, Holland wrote a report about a different flurry of Oklahoma quakes last January – the strongest a 2.8 magnitude – that seemed to occur with hydraulic fracturing. Holland said it was a 50-50 chance that the gas drilling technique caused the tremors

[...]

AP

So… Fracking can’t cause significant earthquakes and Seth Borenstein can actually write an article without parroting the alarmists.

References and Further Reading

Davis, S.D., P.A. Nyffenegger & C. Frolich. The 9 April 1993 Earthquake in South-Central Texas: Was It Induced by Fluid Withdrawal? Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. Vol. 85, No, 6. pp. 1888-1895, December 1995.

Frolich, C. & E. Potter. Dallas-Forth Worth earthquakes coincident with activity associated with natural gas production. The Leading Edge. Vol. 29, No. 3. pp. 270-275, March 2010.

Holland, A. Examination of Possibly Induced Seismicity from Hydraulic Fracturing in the Eola Field, Garvin County, Oklahoma. Oklahoma Geological Survey Open-File Report OF1-2011. August 2011.

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About David Middleton

I have been a geoscientist in the evil oil and gas industry for almost 30 years. My favorite hobby is debunking the junk science of the radical environmentalists...Particularly the junk science of anthropogenic global warming.
This entry was posted in Alarmism, Current News, Earth, Earthquakes, Energy, petroleum and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

85 Responses to Dallas earthquake not caused by fracking… And neither was the Ohio quake.

  1. Brad says:

    Well, I guess I will have to go with the real scientists. In general fracking does not cause significant quakes, but it is new and has not been well studied and in certain geologic formations it may, and probably does.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/us/05fracking.html
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/06/us/06earthquake.html?pagewanted=all
    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/03/01/fracking-earthquakes-arkansas-man-experts-warn/

  2. SSam says:

    Cool.

    If you please… one question. (Of sorts)

    The Guy AR swarm is the reason that the AOGC restricted disposal well operations in that area. The majority of these quakes form a beautiful fan dropping down below 10 km, and the majority of them are about 8 to 9 km deep, well below (no pun) the operating depth of the sites in that area.

    Any idea why? (Or is it just a PR move… in your opinion)

  3. Brad says:

    A study showing Barnett Shale waste injection wells as a “plausible cause” for earthquakes:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100310134158.htm

  4. Andrew30 says:

    I recall that at one time people were considering ‘drilling and lubricting’ major fault lines so that there would be a lot of small movements (no damage) rather than a few, or one, large movement (massive damage).

    The earth is going to move no matter what, the only question is how often, not how far over time.
    Even if there are many small movements that are facilitated by drilling and lubrication, is that a bad thing?
    Perhaps one should point out that multiple minor movements are a good thing in the long term.

  5. John Marshall says:

    Very interesting. We have the occasional quake in the UK and the last, 4,2, was from a completely unknown fault about 5km below the surface according to BGS. We obviously can’t know every fault and earthquake forecasting is not yet possible so quakes will happen with no notice. It is also possible that seismic monitoring has improved over the years and the number of monitoring stations increased so these small quakes have nowhere to hide.

  6. R.S.Brown says:

    David,

    I’m not sure what the maps of the Eola field wells or even the Ohio Barnett
    Shale wells has to do with the 4.0 Youngstown/Warren quake we had a few
    weeks ago.

    This area of Northeastern Ohio has a modern history of minor quakes
    associated with the faults around the edge of the NE Ohio block that’s
    still undergoing rebound “lifting” from the last glaciation.

    These small faults are only partially mapped out… but their trend and
    extentions are fairly “well” known.

    The Ohio quake was attributed not directly to “fracking” wells, but to not quite-
    so-deep deep brine and drilling waste wells in the immediate waste-well area in
    the poorly defined fault zone.

    We’ve had shakes along this series of small faults since I was a kid here in Ohio
    in the 1950s.

    Our little 4.0 quake says nothing one way or the other about the practice
    of fracking.

  7. Richard of NZ says:

    It must have been caused by frakking. Just like the one I felt this morning http://www.geonet.org.nz/earthquake/quakes/3640598g.html. Oh, hang on, there is no frakking in New Zealand. It must then have been caused by the geothermal steam extraction for the power station, or perhaps by the requirement for the reinjection of geothermal condensate. Horrible things these carbon free energy stations.

    Of course it is most likely that being in a seismically active area has something to do with the quake. It is time for the government to start taxing us heavily to prevent earthquakes, after-all we have seen how destructive they can be recently e.g. Christchurch and Japan.

  8. Alan the Brit says:

    Very interesting post, educational & informative, thank you!

    However, when you have the warmista mentallity of Agenda 21, any quake, regardless of how small, that might, just, possibly, potentially, may, could be linked in any way whatsoever to fracking, is a no no! Gaia was scratched & you hurt her! It’s a lose lose situation in many ways.

  9. DocWat says:

    And, I was sure Global Warming caused those earthquakes…

  10. TFNJ says:

    Surely a series of micro quakes will relieve pressure buildup that would oterwise generate a larger quake later?
    So fracking reduces the occurrence of quakes that mightv actually cause damage?

  11. polistra says:

    Congrats on your first shaking. It can be quite an experience!

    I’ve never understood why the technique of fracking is more likely to cause quakes than traditional oil drilling. After all, the traditional method involves a considerable exchange of fluids and pressures between the surface and the sands. Lots of mud and water goes down, and hopefully lots of oil comes up. When you consider the THOUSANDS of wells that have been drilled, pumped and abandoned in Oklahoma and Texas over the last hundred years, and the scarcity of even small quakes during those years, it’s not a very good correlation.

  12. Bloke down the pub says:

    That won’t stop the dipstick we’ve got in charge of UK energy policy from using it as an excuse to ban fracking in favour of windmills.

  13. Louis Hooffstetter says:

    Great article: factual, informative, and unbiased (despite your evil oil connection). These kinds of articles help the general public see that anti-fracking misinformation (like the ‘Gasland’ mockumentary) is just a scare tactic put out by people who dislike all forms of carbon based energy.

  14. Mark Smith says:

    You have probably slept through a few 0.1 M earthquakes. Magnitude 2 earthquake- who cares- it’ll have to get up 3 to noticeable- they probably do some good by releasing some earth stresses. Humans can’t cause real earthquakes (the surface equivalents happen all the time during construction and traffic accidents etc) maybe initiate earthquakes but not induce massive stresses in massive pieces of rock kilometres underground. The oil and gas search industry during better geoscience than the all the deep earth researchers put together (they know remote sensing isn’t worth anything by itself).

  15. Awakening says:

    An EXCELLENT example of how sound judgement and reasonable science can triumph after all. Well written, sir.

    http://starwarsawakening.wordpress.com

  16. bikermailman says:

    Quite a few of minor (under 4.5) quakes have happened in the last couple of years, in the Snyder, Texas, and Ralls, Texas areas, and there are oil wells in BOTH AREAS! O Noes! Oh wait, they aren’t using fraking near there…never mind. :D

  17. klem says:

    Boy its nice to hear some Geo trained people speak up about this issue. The alarmists seem to be the ones getting most of the media and public’s attention up to now.

  18. NavarreAggie says:

    “and Seth Borenstein can actually write an article without parroting the alarmists.”

    Wow! Maybe Santa Claus does exist after all! :)

  19. Kaboom says:

    One point that I find interesting is the question of whether the process of fracking can itself create geological stress that is released through quakes or if it just facilitates the release of pre-existing stress energy. The latter would seem to be a good thing as it would in fact prevent a further build-up that could cause (more) damage.

  20. D. Robinson says:

    and Seth Borenstein can actually write an article without parroting the alarmists.

    The most shocking conclusion of this post! But fear not, Mr Borenstein will self correct this one time slip of non-alarmism within a week.

  21. Jeffrey Larsen says:

    It’s probably worth pointing out as well that fracking/water injection itself isn’t potentially creating these earthquakes but would be allowing stress/strain to be relieved from naturally occuring tectonic forces. I think much of the public isn’t aware of this.

  22. Dutyfree says:

    For people interested in real earthquakes, check this link to the ongoing earthquakes in Christchurch New Zealand. They have real issues to deal with, not fracking related complaints about earthquakes no one feels and that have probably been happening all their lives.

    http://www.christchurchquakemap.co.nz/

  23. TomL says:

    Fracking does, of course, cause swarms of micro-earthquakes. That’s what happens when rock breaks. The vast majority are less than magnitude 1. Careful monitoring of the microearthquakes is how the extent of the frack is measured, and also how it’s documented that the fractures never get anywhere near freshwater aquifers.
    There was a special session at last year’s SEG on environmental concerns related to fracking. It is possible for a frack to intersect an existing fault and cause a small earthquake, but the volume of water used is too small to lubricate enough fault area to produce an earthquake bigger than 2.0 or so. Wastewater disposal wells inject larger volumes over longer times and have indeed triggered earthquakes of magnitude 4.0, causing minor damage. The best known example was at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal back in the 60′s, IIRC.

  24. Doug says:

    The following was sent to me by a geologist in Oklahoma:

    “I heard the rumble that actually did turn out to be the earthquake,but needed ten seconds to figure out which it was. Not a big deal. The newskeeps trying to blame it on fracs.

    No, it isn’t a frac, but we did notice that they arepumping mind boggling amounts of water (over 10,000 barrels water per day perwell) in hundreds of wells near epicenter/fault (huge water reinjection sweepof

    old watered-out field recovering about 2% oil cut). Somebodyfrom the USGS did say that this type of water injection could cause up to a 5magnitude quake, however, nobody seems to be listening to him

    as long as the misinformed public keeps blaming it on fracs, theindustry can continue to categorically deny fracs are the cause.”

  25. Steve Keohane says:

    Thanks for the perspective David. In western Colorado there is a fair amount of oil drilling. The local busy-bodies with too little to do are always gravely concerned about fracking and other aspects of the evil oil industry.

  26. R. Gates says:

    So the fracking doesn’t cause some of the earthquakes, but the disposal of the wastewater can? Isn’t this like saying it isn’t the fall that will kill you, but hitting the ground?

  27. Former Forecaster says:

    Nice. Thorough. As a geologist, I have only this to say to people terrified of the M2.0 quakes caused by fracking: nothing, because it is yet another in a series of non-issues trumped up by Greens to portray everything we do as Ultimate Evil.

    And they wonder why people are no longer believing their drivel.

  28. GeoLurking says:

    Oil and gas are bad, clean is good. Oil and gas fracking is bad, fracking a putative triple junction under Hengill volcano is good.

    No kidding. Sometimes they wind up making spidering quake swarms that extend several kilometers from the well operations… at a volcano that has been known to erupt on occasion. (150 AD was the last one)

  29. TomL says:

    The key distinction between fracking and injection wells is that injection wells are used in conventional oil fields all over the place and, although they are more likely than fracking to cause significant earthquakes, nobody claims that injection wells are going to destroy the world.

    The “fracking” brand of fear-mongering is specifically targeted at shale gas, which is a threat to both Big Green and Big Coal. There’s a reason why the most publicized cases of ground water purportedly contaminated by fracking happen to be in Pennsylvania and Wyoming. The tactic is to blame fracking specifically for environmental problems like leaking casing cement or injection wells that can happen with any conventional oil or gas (or water) well.

  30. Babsy says:

    I guess y’all know that Halliburton used to have a big well service yard in Duncan, OK. I’ve seen many of their trucks streaming up and down US 81-287 heading to and from well sites. Now there are more evil well sevice companies in North Texas and they’re being invaded by windmills only 75 miles to the west. Oh, the HUMANITY! What will we do? How will we survive?

  31. tty says:

    “In general fracking does not cause significant quakes, but it is new and has not been well studied”

    No, it has only been used for about 60 years and probably less than a million times.

  32. crosspatch says:

    What is interesting as that we do not see any complaints about quakes where water injection DOES cause them and we know it does. I am talking about the geothermal energy production at The Geysers in California.

    Look at this map and notice the cluster of quakes East of Cloverdale, California:

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqscanv/FaultMaps/123-39.html

    Those quakes are caused by geothermal energy production and they happen every day. Not a single story ever hits the papers about them. But I would be willing to bet a cheeseburger and a coke that if there was fracking activity there, the “environmentalists” would be up in arms over it.

  33. Doug says:

    R. Gates says:

    January 11, 2012 at 7:17 am
    ————So the fracking doesn’t cause some of the earthquakes, but the disposal of the wastewater can? Isn’t this like saying it isn’t the fall that will kill you, but hitting the ground?——

    No, the waste water disposal my friend referred to was produced from an old watered out oil field. The wells produce 98% water, but at $100 a barrel for the oil, they are still making money. The volumes of water are vastly larger than frac fluid disposal, and are not a one time issue. These wells will produce water, in huge quantities, for their remaining life, while frac fluid flows back once and is done with. The massive water injection may have indeed caused a small quake. Cool, huh?

  34. Luther Wu says:

    R. Gates says:
    January 11, 2012 at 7:17 am

    So the fracking doesn’t cause some of the earthquakes, but the disposal of the wastewater can? Isn’t this like saying it isn’t the fall that will kill you, but hitting the ground?
    __________________________________
    Fracking and water disposal are completely unrelated.
    Attempting evidential reasoning from a position of ignorance is folly.
    Do some research, get a clue.

  35. Louis Hooffstetter says:

    R. Gates says: “So the fracking doesn’t cause some of the earthquakes, but the disposal of the wastewater can? Isn’t this like saying it isn’t the fall that will kill you, but hitting the ground?”

    Both fracking and wastewater injection force fluids at high pressures into the rocks. Fracking uses less water over shorter periods of time, but at higher pressures. In both cases the injected fluid naturally follows paths of least resistance, which are usually pre-existing fracture zones called “joint patterns”. Joint patterns are produced by plate tectonics, and they exist virtually everywhere in continental land masses. Faults are simply fracture zones that have been put under so much stress that large masses of rocks have moved. The vibrations produced when large blocks of rock move is what we feel as earthquakes.

    To have a significant earthquake from fracking or wastewater injection, two conditions must be met: 1) the water forced into the rocks must have enough hydraulic pressure to force apart the fracture zone of a nearby fault enough to ‘lubricate’ it, and 2) the existing fault zone must have enough pent up stress to cause it to slip when lubricated. If there are no nearby fault zones under significant stress, neither fracking nor wastewater injection can cause a significant earthquake.

  36. DesertYote says:

    2.0? Shoot, where I just moved from, that would not even be noticed. Over 4.0 and i might be reported in the local papers. Just north of were I lived 2-3s happen almost every day. No fracking lie.

  37. _Jim says:

    Former Forecaster says on January 11, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Nice. Thorough. As a geologist, I have only this to say to people terrified of the M2.0 quakes caused by fracking: nothing, because it is yet another in a series of non-issues trumped up by Greens to portray everything we do as Ultimate Evil.

    My only question would be: “What does this do to a crystal-pulling operations”? (thinking of TI’s semiconductor foundry activities in North Texas now)

    Primer: Silicon Crystal Growth including Silicon crystal boule manufacture.

    Czochralski crystal growth process: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czochralski_process

    .

  38. HP says:

    actually they think the earthquakes are being caused by waste water disposal wells that they drilling to dispose of fraccing fluid.

  39. GeologyJim says:

    Three points: First, most fracking fluid is recovered during completion of the well. It is recycled for other fracking operations (hey, all that stuff costs money). So fracking operations are nowhere near as consumptive of water as alleged

    Second, 99% of the frack fluid is water and sand. The rest consists of surfactants, wetting agents, and other benign stuff that helps produce a slurry that can deliver the sand to the fractures (that’s the whole point). If the VOCs used/produced in frack fluids were really so “toxic”, one would expect very anomalous respiratory illness/death among all oilfield workers.

    Third, fluid injection does not “lubricate” fault zones. Fluids can reduce the lithostatic load (weight of rocks, if you like) that keeps a fault zone from slipping under ambient earth-stress conditions, thereby allowing slippage. But it ain’t a lube-job

  40. Dave Worley says:

    Shale producers avoid faults because you cannot build sufficient frac pressure if the fluid leaks into a fault. Frac wellbores are planned to avoid faulted areas. The shale must be relatively uniform and solid for proper fracing.
    In Louisiana’s Haynesville shale area there are many despondent landowners who cannot get their property leased/drilled due to faults.

  41. stumpy says:

    Just to put a 2.0 quake into context, you would struggle to notice anything below 3.0 even if your lying still in bed listening for it and anything 4.0 or less you wouldnt notice if you were moving around – though you may hear something. Of course, magnitude is only part of it, distance from the epicentre and depth are also important – deeper or quakes further away create more of a swaying motion whilst shallow close quakes are more of a jot with a lot of high frequency vibration. Living in Christchurch now through a 7.4, 2x 6.4′s, a few 6.0′s and everything else below I now consider myself a bit of a quake expert!

    My favourite game is guessing the magnitude depth and distance of the quake, I have gotten so good at it now I can tell where it came from, the depth, and energy reasonably accurately!

    Frakking and 2.0 quakes is the last thing anyone should worry about!

  42. Pete in Cumbria UK says:

    From New Scientist (today)
    British geologists say Fracking risk is exaggerated

  43. Brian H says:

    Louis Hooffstetter says:
    January 11, 2012 at 9:05 am
    ….
    To have a significant earthquake from fracking or wastewater injection, two conditions must be met: 1) the water forced into the rocks must have enough hydraulic pressure to force apart the fracture zone of a nearby fault enough to ‘lubricate’ it, and 2) the existing fault zone must have enough pent up stress to cause it to slip when lubricated. If there are no nearby fault zones under significant stress, neither fracking nor wastewater injection can cause a significant earthquake.

    Watch your language. That bolded word does not mean to a layperson what it does to a geologist or mathematician. You risk significant misunderstanding, unless you are VERY explicit.

  44. Jackstraw says:

    Brad says:
    “Well, I guess I will have to go with the real scientists. In general fracking does not cause significant quakes, but it is new and has not been well studied and in certain geologic formations”

    Brad With all due respect, you are wrong. Hydraulic Fracturing has been conducted extensively for over 60 years. There have been over 1.2 million fracture treatments pumped. The process has been studied extensively by Sandia National Laboratories, the Gas Research Institute, and many dozens of Universities. Not to mention the billions in private research dollars that have been invested in studying the subject.

    I do not have the data at my fingertips, but I would venture to guess that there are many more PhDs issued in fracture mechanics and Geomechanics than there are in Climate Modeling.

  45. Ed Mertin says:

    @ GeoLurking,
    What is going on under Guy, Arkansas? I recall you honkerheads discussing the possibilities of magma breaking a little rock. (not Little Rock) Any conclusions ever reached to the cause?
    Possibly the heavy rainfalls in the region from 2008 through 2010?

  46. Al Fin says:

    There is a huge difference between hydraulic fracturing of crystalline rock like granite, and the hydraulic fracturing of sedimentary rock or porous rock — in terms of seismogenic potential.

    Deep crystalline rock is fractured for enhanced geothermal applications, some deep well disposal operations, and perhaps deep CO2 sequestration. Seismic activity associated with crystalline rock fracturing — especially if near a fault zone — is not uncommon. But that is not the same as fraccing for oil & gas.

    Fracturing sedimentary and porous rock is quite a different story, and is unlikely to cause any quakes detectable by most observers without sophisticated seismic detectors, in most cases.

    A more important question to ask, is why are media outlets presenting a deceptively ominous picture of fraccing for oil & gas? What is the money and influence trail? How far does it go…?
    Who stands to gain the most from a prohibition of tight oil & gas?

  47. R. Gates says:

    Louis Hooffstetter says

    “To have a significant earthquake from fracking or wastewater injection, two conditions must be met: 1) the water forced into the rocks must have enough hydraulic pressure to force apart the fracture zone of a nearby fault enough to ‘lubricate’ it, and 2) the existing fault zone must have enough pent up stress to cause it to slip when lubricated. If there are no nearby fault zones under significant stress, neither fracking nor wastewater injection can cause a significant earthquake.”
    ______
    Exactly. Thanks. We saw a series of earthquakes here in the Denver area in the 60′s and 70′s whenn they were pumping wastewater from a chemical arms manufacturing plant underground. They finally figured out they ought to stop, but not after millions of dollars in cracked foundations, walls, etc. Nothing major, but unecessary all the same.

  48. Steve Woodside says:

    If you want to feel earthquakes, come the Christchurch New Zealand. Over 8,000 since Sept 2010. Another 6.0 Md on 23 Dec, with the resulting swarm of aftershocks. Most of these well exceed the 2Md. For a while many of these were under the city and shallow (5 – 6 km deep) – so they were “well felt”.
    Funny thing is, there is a move for oil exploration in NZ, including fracking. The greens try to run the “it causes earhtquakes” argument, but it doesn’t hold much validity in the “shaky isles”, since we had the shakes before the fracking. So they fall back on the “oil spill” disaster scenarios, especially since we had a container ship hit a reef 3 months ago, with about 1,700 tonnes of bunker oil. Most of the oil was removed, but some got to shore. The ship broke up a couple of days ago, so more oil is expected to hit the beaches in a day or two.

  49. Fracking, shmacking. The bottom line is, whatever promises to supply affordable energy leading to an upsurge in the economy is the enemy. We know that coal and oil are going to bring global warming which is going to destroy us all. Previous “balmy times” (if we can find them on flattened hockey stick graphs) were good for people, but this time, no. Because we said so. Of course we know that nuclear is the horror of all horrors, so we can’t have that either. Now gas, well, that one was ok when there didn’t seem to be all that much of it…until this damnable fracking. Uh, oh. Wait, let’s see…earthquakes! Yes, that’s it, earthquakes and poisoned wells, and…and gas surging through Ma’s kitchen faucet. We can’t have that either, or at least, we need to study it…a lot and for a long time.

    Now, some of you may puzzle over why wind turbines and solar panels aren’t being given a hard time, when we know that they are wasteful, inefficient, expensive, destructive and downright ugly. Simples: They don’t work all too well, so they can stay for now, until they’re all that’s left, most everyone has died off and then we can go after them.

  50. _Jim says:

    stumpy says on January 11, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Frakking and 2.0 quakes is the last thing anyone should worry about!

    Truly; words to live by.

    Then there are these folks whose concern are those minor ‘tremors’ (you do like your iPhone and iPad right?)

    SEISMIC ISOLATION SYSTEM WITH CONVERTIBLE
    ACTIVE AND PASSIVE MODES USING LINEAR MOTORS
    FOR MONOCRYSTAL PULLERS

    13th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering

    SUMMARY – This paper describes a seismic isolation system for monocrystal pullers. In the monocrystal puller, a monocrystal is suspended by a wire through an extremely narrow neck, and it grows longitudinally as it is withdrawn gradually from the molten material.

    The neck is easily broken due to collision between the monocrystal and the wall of the puller, even during even weak earthquakes.

    .

  51. Phil R says:

    Brad says:
    January 11, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Well, I guess I will have to go with the real scientists. In general fracking does not cause significant quakes, but it is new and has not been well studied and in certain geologic formations it may, and probably does.

    I read through your first link. It was in the NY Times and I did not see one reference to “real scientists.” I ignored the rest. I tend to go trust the opinion of someone who has first-hand experience (30 years experience in geophysical exploration) than a NY Times article.

  52. Phil R says:

    Brad says:
    January 11, 2012 at 1:14 am

    A study showing Barnett Shale waste injection wells as a “plausible cause” for earthquakes:

    There was a discussion recently about “plausible.” I don’t remember if it was here, but it might have been at CA. You should review the discussion (and the definition) before you use the term to suggest it means anything significant.

  53. Luther Wu says:

    Peter Kovachev says:
    January 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm
    Fracking, shmacking. The bottom line is, whatever promises to supply affordable energy leading to an upsurge in the economy is the enemy. We know that coal and oil are going to bring global warming which is going to destroy us all. Previous “balmy times” (if we can find them on flattened hockey stick graphs) were good for people, but this time, no. Because we said so. Of course we know that nuclear is the horror of all horrors, so we can’t have that either. Now gas,
    well, that one was ok when there didn’t seem to be all that much of it…until this damnable fracking. Uh, oh. Wait, let’s see…earthquakes! Yes, that’s it, earthquakes and poisoned wells, and…and gas surging through Ma’s kitchen faucet. We can’t have that either, or at least, we need to study it…a lot and for a long time.

    Now, some of you may puzzle over why wind turbines and solar panels aren’t being given a hard time, when we know that they are wasteful, inefficient, expensive, destructive and downright ugly. Simples: They don’t work all too well, so they can stay for now, until they’re all that’s left, most everyone has died off and then we can go after them.
    _______________________________________
    You’ve been paying attention.

  54. Jeff Wiita says:

    I think these minor earthquakes in NE Ohio were caused by global warming. 11,000 years ago there were glaciers in that area, and if it wasn’t for global warming, they would still be there. That part of the country has been slowly lifting since the last great ice age. Thank God for global warming.

  55. Ed Mertin says:

    If Obama wins in 2012, is an EPA ban on fracking probably to follow?
    Gold and dollar stores get a bigger boost?

  56. geoff says:

    GeologyJim, you say that fracking liquids are made of water, sand and other “benign stuff”.

    Going to quote wikipedia here, but: “The 2011 US House of Representatives investigative report on the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing shows that of the 750 compounds in hydraulic fracturing products “[m]ore than 650 of these products contained chemicals that are known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or listed as hazardous air pollutants” (12). The report also shows that between 2005 and 2009 279 products (93.6 million gallons-not including water) had at least one component listed as “proprietary” or “trade secret” on their Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) required Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).”

    Doesn’t really sound like they’re benign.

  57. ozwriter says:

    You SLEPT through it? And you call yourself a geoscientist?

  58. Mr Luther Wu: I do try. Unencumbered by a single scientific bone, gaping and scratching me poor head over those squiggly lines and big words all you kind folks here use, I can try to help things along by serving up the roasted peanuts, wiping the beer rings and keeping a jaundiced eye on the bill they’re sticking us with.

  59. Kevin Kilty says:

    Doug says:
    January 11, 2012 at 6:44 am
    The following was sent to me by a geologist in Oklahoma:

    “I heard the rumble that actually did turn out to be the earthquake,but needed ten seconds to figure out which it was. Not a big deal. The newskeeps trying to blame it on fracs.

    No, it isn’t a frac, but we did notice that they arepumping mind boggling amounts of water (over 10,000 barrels water per day perwell) in hundreds of wells near epicenter/fault (huge water reinjection sweepof

    old watered-out field recovering about 2% oil cut). Somebodyfrom the USGS did say that this type of water injection could cause up to a 5magnitude quake, however, nobody seems to be listening to him…

    He is probably basing his estimate on the earthquakes in Denver in the 1960s that were caused by disposal of waste water at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal NE of Denver. Yes there were some cracked foundations, as R. Gates points out, but the disposal was quite deep (20,000 feet is what I recall) and at very high pressure to get the injected fluids to move. In oil fields one injects generally to maintain field pressure, to replaced removed fluids, and so one is not over-pressuring a formation and thereby exploring uncharted territory with regard to pre-existing fractures that carry residual stress. After the inadvertent Denver experiments, the USGS and Chevron Oil carried out a research program at the Rangely field in Western Colorado for many years. They found that they could induce earthquakes at will and shut them off by cycling underground fluid pressures through a critical value–small earthquakes, though.

    A magnitude 2.0 earthquake is very difficult to feel. I felt several when I lived north of Portland Oregon, and I noticed them only because it was late at night, all of the door hinges in the house creaked simultaneously, and it set the neighborhood dogs to barking. A magnitude 3.8 earthquake in 1984 up at Easterbrook, Wyoming cracked some foundations down at Golden, Colorado, some 200miles away. Local geology is all important for determining what small earthquakes might do. The current fuss over earthquakes and frac’ing or injection is highly opportunistic, though.

  60. Bill Parsons says:

    From the Nature / Scientific American article: “…a liquid-waste-disposal project in Colorado in the 1960s, where an injection of 631,000 cubic meters triggered earthquakes of magnitude up to 5, the largest yet seen as a result of fluid injection.”

    I felt one of these jolts (there were thousands of them, apparently) in late afternoon, some 15 miles from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal where they were doing the waste injections. I was home from high school, sitting on a couch with my hand resting against a wall, and I remember having the initial impression that a truck must have driven across our lawn and hit our house. It was a loud “bang”, followed by some rocking and secondary jolts that gradually subsided. A bit scary, but also kind of interesting; it was over in half a minute.

    As the article suggests, the jolts around Denver and Commerce City (felt all the way up into the foothills above the city) were traced to waste fluid injections. I gather that some others, like myself, are concerned more with pollution issues than with the quakes themselves, (as some have suggested, the lubrication may actually mitigate against some larger, natural events by relieving pressure build-up). I think the 64,000 dollar question is still what the fracking fluids and waste water injections do (or will do in the future) to the aquifer and other subterranean water systems. It’s very reasonable to keep asking this question here and elsewhere, and even pushing back against companies that do not appear to be acting with measurable and transparent caution. Why, for example, should these companies not provide exact formulas and concentrations of the materials in their fracking fluids? They claim that no pollution will occur from their drilling, so it would seem reasonable to expect them to voluntarily provide (in secret if they wished) samples of these fluids to be held by some government entity until the drilling was concluded, and it were clear that all the injections and closed wells were stable and not migrating. If pollution were later detected, specific companies could be held accountable.

    How strange it was, after the Deepwater Horizon event, to watch as some of the worst effects of oil on the ocean ecosystem simply disappeared. The currents in the gulf helped disperse them, and bacteria, so we were told, helped to break harmful components down. A contamination of a freshwater aquifer would likely present more difficult problems, some of which would not be so easily resolved.

  61. Richard G says:

    “and perhaps deep CO2 sequestration”. There is a Non-starter I can’t believe has gotten any traction what so ever. What a waste of perfectly good CO2. I would rather see it made into corn flakes, barley malt and beer any day! More CO2… More Sugar!

  62. Mike C. says:

    Don’t tell me that even a 30 year O&G G&G guy has given up on correcting the atrocious use of “fracking” or worse yet “frakking”!

    Folks, there’s no “k” in the word “fracture.” The proper spelling is “fracing” and no, it doesn’t matter how many times some airhead with with a journalism degree from Columbia mis-spells it.

    Full disclosure – 37 years O&G G&G here, and counting…

  63. David Middleton says:

    @Mike C,

    Guilty as charged. It looks like it’s spelled wrong without the “k.”

  64. David Middleton says:

    Mike C. says:
    January 12, 2012 at 12:54 am
    Don’t tell me that even a 30 year O&G G&G guy has given up on correcting the atrocious use of “fracking” or worse yet “frakking”!

    Folks, there’s no “k” in the word “fracture.” The proper spelling is “fracing” and no, it doesn’t matter how many times some airhead with with a journalism degree from Columbia mis-spells it.

    Full disclosure – 37 years O&G G&G here, and counting…

    Guilty as charged. I gave up on “fracing” a long time ago. To be really accurate, it should be written as a contraction: frac’ing. But, grammar, spelling and punctuation have never been high priorities in the writing of drilling reports and scout tickets… ;)

  65. David Middleton says:

    Brad says:
    January 11, 2012 at 12:59 am
    Well, I guess I will have to go with the real scientists. In general fracking does not cause significant quakes, but it is new and has not been well studied and in certain geologic formations it may, and probably does.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/us/05fracking.html
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/06/us/06earthquake.html?pagewanted=all
    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/03/01/fracking-earthquakes-arkansas-man-experts-warn/

    Fracking has been a common well completion practice for about 60 years… The only new thing is that it that lots of wells are being drilled in places that are unaccustomed to drilling and production activities.

    Your first link isn’t about fracking…

    Waste Wells to Be Closed in Arkansas
    By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON
    Published: March 4, 2011
    Two oil and gas companies agreed to temporarily shut down wastewater disposal wells in Arkansas that some experts believe are connected to a recent swarm of earthquakes.

    […]

    Your second link isn’t about fracking either…

    A Dot on the Map, Until the Earth Started Shaking
    By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON
    Published: February 5, 2011
    […]
    Since the early fall, there have been thousands, none of them very large — a fraction have been felt, and the only documented damage is a cracked window in the snack bar at Woolly Hollow State Park. But in their sheer numbers, they have been relentless, creating a phenomenon that has come to be called the Guy earthquake swarm.
    […]
    Disposal wells are dug, and the wastewater is injected deep into the earth. Last summer a few of these injection wells appeared near the town, including the one across from Big Pop’s fruit stand, just past the school.

    Then the ground started shaking.

    There are two important facts about the Guy swarm. The first is that such swarms have happened around here twice in the past three decades, long before the gas companies came.
    The Enola swarm in the early 1980s occurred about 10 miles to the southeast. Over a comparable six month period, 550 locatable earthquake events occurred in the Enola swarm, compared to 640 around Guy. In both cases, thousands of smaller quakes were recorded by seismographs.

    The largest back then measured a magnitude 4.5; the largest this time has measured 4.0.

    Though the exact causes are unknown, the Enola swarm and another similar swarm in the area in 2001 are considered natural occurrences. (They also do not appear to be related to the major New Madrid Seismic Zone, which reaches into the state’s northeastern corner.)

    But researchers with the Arkansas Geological Survey say that while there is no discernible link between earthquakes and gas production, there is “strong temporal and spatial” evidence for a relationship between these quakes and the injection wells.
    […]

    Nor was your third link related to fracking…

    Earthquakes in Arkansas May Be Man-Made, Experts Warn
    By Alec Liu & Jeremy A. Kaplan

    Published March 01, 2011
    | FoxNews.com

    […]

    Geologists don’t believe the fracking itself is a problem. But Steve Horton, an earthquake specialist at the University of Memphis Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI), is worried by a correlation between the Arkansas earthquake swarm and a side effect of the drilling: the disposal of wastewater in injection wells.
    […]

    The salt water is not a byproduct of fracking… Or at least, very little of it is a byproduct of fracking. Most of it is a byproduct of oil and gas production.

    Injection wells can induce ~4.0 Md quakes under the right conditions… There’s nothing new about that. The companies that drill and operate wastewater disposal wells need to do a better job of locating and monitoring those wells.

    The extraction of oil and gas can also induce ~4.0 Md quakes under the right conditions. The ideal practice is to inject wastewater into depleted oil & gas reservoirs.

  66. David Middleton says:

    TomL says:
    January 11, 2012 at 7:42 am
    […]

    The “fracking” brand of fear-mongering is specifically targeted at shale gas, which is a threat to both Big Green and Big Coal.
    […]

    In the interests of “full disclosure,” it would be in my personal financial interest to see the shale plays killed. I’ve worked the Gulf of Mexico since 1988. The shale plays have devalued GOM gas reserves to the point that they are almost a liability.

  67. David Middleton says:

    Mark Smith says:
    January 11, 2012 at 4:58 am
    You have probably slept through a few 0.1 M earthquakes. Magnitude 2 earthquake- who cares- it’ll have to get up 3 to noticeable- they probably do some good by releasing some earth stresses. Humans can’t cause real earthquakes (the surface equivalents happen all the time during construction and traffic accidents etc) maybe initiate earthquakes but not induce massive stresses in massive pieces of rock kilometres underground. The oil and gas search industry during better geoscience than the all the deep earth researchers put together (they know remote sensing isn’t worth anything by itself).

    I’ve slept through a lot of <2.0 Md quakes in the DFW area. I was in the process of writing the post about the Ohio quake when the Dallas one happened… So, I threw in the tongue-in-cheek intro.

    The media reporting of the quake has been hilarious. I'm amazed that they haven’t tried to link it to fracking, although the local ABC affiliate seemed to be blaming George W. Bush and Mark Cuban for it… Bush’s Fault

  68. David Middleton says:

    R. Gates says:
    January 11, 2012 at 7:17 am
    So the fracking doesn’t cause some of the earthquakes, but the disposal of the wastewater can? Isn’t this like saying it isn’t the fall that will kill you, but hitting the ground?

    No. It’s like saying that eating a banana can’t cause the guy behind you to slip & fall; but carelessly tossing the banana peel over your shoulder can cause him to slip & fall.

  69. David Middleton says:

    Dave Worley says:
    January 11, 2012 at 10:21 am
    Shale producers avoid faults because you cannot build sufficient frac pressure if the fluid leaks into a fault. Frac wellbores are planned to avoid faulted areas. The shale must be relatively uniform and solid for proper fracing.
    In Louisiana’s Haynesville shale area there are many despondent landowners who cannot get their property leased/drilled due to faults.

    That’s the worst part about the shale plays. I love picking and mapping faults… I’d go crazy if I was supposed to look for boring structural geology… ;)

  70. David Middleton says:

    R.S.Brown says:
    January 11, 2012 at 2:15 am
    David,

    I’m not sure what the maps of the Eola field wells or even the Ohio Barnett
    Shale wells has to do with the 4.0 Youngstown/Warren quake we had a few
    weeks ago.

    The Barnett is in Texas… It has nothing to do with the Ohio quake… Nor did it have anything to do with last week’s Ohio quake.

    Eola Field is the only example I could find, of nearly palpable earthquakes being sort of tied to an actual fracking operation.

    This area of Northeastern Ohio has a modern history of minor quakes
    associated with the faults around the edge of the NE Ohio block that’s
    still undergoing rebound “lifting” from the last glaciation.

    These small faults are only partially mapped out… but their trend and
    extentions are fairly “well” known.

    Yep.

    The Ohio quake was attributed not directly to “fracking” wells, but to not quite-
    so-deep deep brine and drilling waste wells in the immediate waste-well area in
    the poorly defined fault zone.

    That’s what I posted.

    We’ve had shakes along this series of small faults since I was a kid here in Ohio
    in the 1950s.

    Our little 4.0 quake says nothing one way or the other about the practice
    of fracking.

    That was the point of my post. However, the mainstream media continues to tie the Ohio quake to fracking…

    The Post’s View
    Does fracking for natural gas cause earthquakes?

    By Editorial Board, Published: January 7
    DOES HYDRAULIC fracturing to obtain natural gas cause earthquakes?

    Yes.

    Every time humans apply or remove pressure from rock formations or dig a big hole in the ground, there’s at least a small risk of a seismic result. That does not mean that people should stop digging holes or extracting valuable resources — especially those that could have real environmental benefits — just that industry and government should apply some sensible caution.

    The technique for liberating natural gas from subterranean shale formations — popularly called fracking — involves pumping water and chemicals into the ground, fracturing the rock below and inducing tiny earthquakes, unfelt but detectable directly above.

    But seismologists in Ohio have implicated a different part of the process in a series of much more powerful quakes that recently shook Youngstown: disposing of the leftover “waste water” by pumping it underground, in different geological conditions.

    [...]

    WaPo

    Horrible reporting…

    The Ohio quake was not caused by “a different part of the [fracking] process.” It was triggered an entirely different process.

    “That does not mean that people should stop digging holes or extracting valuable resources — especially those that could have real environmental benefits,” is just a flat-out idiotic statement. If fracking is inherently hazardous from an induced seismicity perspective, the green-ness of natural gas relative to coal is irrelevant. If the hazard is inconsequential, the green-ness of natural gas relative to coal is irrelevant to the value of the mineral resource.

  71. ferd berple says:

    What causes earthquakes is the fact that the earth’s crust in scale is much thinner than the skin of an apple, and the apple underneath the skin is a fluid in motion, heated from within (or possibly by CO2 due to climate change).

    Friction within the skin itself prevents earthquakes until the pressure build to such a point that you get a catastrophic release of pressure, resulting in a loss of life and property.

    Injecting water into the crust has been shown to reduce friction, reducing the magnitude of the earthquakes while increasing their frequency.

    Would you rather have a 0.1 earthquake every week, or an 8.0 earthquake every 100 years?

    So, can fracking cause an earthquake? Not one that wasn’t already scheduled to happen. All fracking can due is deliver the earthquake sooner, before it has built up to full pressure.

  72. ferd berple says:

    The ideal that fracking is something new from an earthquake point of view is of course nonsense. Large scale water injection has been used for resource extraction and waste disposal long before the introduction of fracking.

    The real danger of fracking is that it poses an economic threat to other energy production industries that are now trying to use environmental fears to limit competition.

  73. Louis Hooffstetter says:

    geoff says:
    “The 2011 US House of Representatives investigative report on the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing shows that of the 750 compounds in hydraulic fracturing products “[m]ore than 650 of these products contained chemicals that are known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or listed as hazardous air pollutants” (12). The report also shows that between 2005 and 2009 279 products (93.6 million gallons-not including water) had at least one component listed as “proprietary” or “trade secret” on their Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) required Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).”

    Doesn’t really sound like they’re benign.

    You are correct, but its all relative. Nearly all petrochemicals fall into these same categories, and because the oil companies are trying to recover petrochemicals, the formation fluids that naturally occurs in the rocks where fracking takes place usually contain more than enough petrochemicals to also fall into these same categories. In many cases, the formation fluids contain greater concentrations of cancer causing compounds (benzene, toluene, xylene, etc.) than the fracking fluids themselves. This is why water from oil wells is re-injected back underground, usually into depleted oil wells. Water that comes up with oil is a “characteristic hazardous waste”, and the best place to dispose of it is back underground in the same formations it came from.

  74. GeologyJim says:

    Further to what Hooffstetter says to geoff: Mere detection of the existence of a compound/molecule in produced water from an oil/gas well does not equate to a human-health concern.

    It (toxicity) all depends on concentration and EXPOSURE. Given the abundant controls/regulations on the storage, handling, and disposal of industrial fluids (which applies to water produced in oil/gas operations), there is no credible pathway that leads to widespread human-health risk. Wells are cased and cemented, usually do a depth of several hundred feet, to reduce potential interaction with shallow groundwater, which may be locally used for drinking

    Zero-exposure thinking here is as irrational/meaningless as zero-tolerance policies in (e.g.) schools. Both remove any influence of common sense in making meaningful decisions.

    And to R Gates: the Denver earthquakes did not produce $millions damages – mostly broken windows at and near the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, minor damage to unreinforced masonry (parapets, etc), and some loose stuff falling over. The whole thing was more interesting from the science angle than the damage angle

  75. katesisco says:

    Well, fracking is not primary, so my favorite theory is still alive. That our heliosphere is compressed, the end of the recurring 5,000 y cycle in which the gas cloud Fluff enerngizes with neutrino input and is squeezed down to normally past Earth toward the sun. At that point it is exposed to cosmic rays and expansion. Compression would cause earthquakes as the small pores are closed up in Earth. If the Maya are right, our compression ends with 2012 and our heliosphere once again reaches to Pluto only we have some really hot gas planets that will be felt by our solar primary which is going to give us some horriffic weather, if nothing else.

  76. Jeff in Calgary says:

    I come from a region full of traditional natural gas supplies. So as a direct consequence, it is my job to try to discredit fracking. If fracking is allowed to continue, it will dilute the supply of natural gas, harming the economy of my province. So…. You must be crazy. Of course fracking causes earth quakes. It also causes natural gas to contaminate the ground water. Fracking must be stopped now!!!

  77. Mike C wrote on January 12, 2012 at 12:54 am: “…Folks, there’s no “k” in the word “fracture.” The proper spelling is “fracing” and no, it doesn’t matter how many times some airhead with with a journalism degree from Columbia mis-spells it.”

    Alas, Mike, fracking and sometimes frakking are obviously the vernaclar terms for fracturing, which is the word we should be using in formal communications. The casual or diminutive versions of scientific or technical words are usually established by the media and the public, rarely by the specialists, and they tend to be spelled the way they sound. To spell it as fracing would be confusing, as most people only read the word, rarely hear it, and so would pronounce it as “frayssing.” English is a crazy, but living language without formal academies dictating use or spelling and we sometimes have no choice but to accept the will of the mob. Resistance is futile, I’m afraid.

  78. Kevin Kilty says:

    Peter Kovachev says:
    January 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    frac’ing. The apostrophe denotes missing letters.

  79. Kevin Kilty says:

    ferd berple says:
    January 12, 2012 at 7:23 am


    Would you rather have a 0.1 earthquake every week, or an 8.0 earthquake every 100 years?…

    Since each unit step in magnitude denotes a thirty times increase in energy released, there is no way you could release the energy of a magnitude 8.0 with a multitude of 0.1s over space or time. That has always been the fly in this ointment. Besides, if one mistakenly produces a magnitude 5.5 in a populated area with poorly consolidated soils, who picks up the tab for the damage?

  80. Kevin Kilty says:

    GeologyJim says:
    January 12, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I seem to recall that they did lead to some tightening of building codes–specifically in the Western Federal Savings Building. Do you know about this?

  81. Ray B says:

    Hydro-fracturing is nothing even remotely new. In these parts probably 60+% of drinking water wells are hydrofractured to increase output. That percentage goes up with capacity. Against ‘fracking’? Tell it to the town water utility.

    What is new is the somewhat coarse sounding ‘fracking’ that is the new boogey man for a lot of special interests. Cheap and plentiful domestic oil and natural gas is the last thing that they want, so the development of the various shale formations finding so much recoverable domestic energy is catastrophic.

    Demonizing ‘fracking’ at every turn is their best weapon at the moment. To be able to associate earthquakes with ‘fracking’ would be positively epic in trying to oppose energy development projects.

    We can probably look forward to tidbits like “Fracking, known to cause earthquakes..” in helpful little news buddy insights on energy stories in the media as well as in the sound bite world of message boards and special interest group efforts to stop projects.

  82. Mark Besse says:

    The problem in that in the green worldview reality doesn’t matter. Facts on fracking just don’t matter. I expect the list of problems caused by fracking to compete with the list for CAGW. There’s a Venn diagram project if someone is interested.

  83. Kyle Cooksley says:

    [snip language - f-word - policy violation ~mod]

  84. Kyle Cooksley says:

    My comment is awating moderation?! Freedom of speach! >:-(

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