Are the science journalists ignorant of science? Or are they intentionally misleading the public?
Earthquakes triggered by fluids injected deep underground, such as during the controversial practice of fracking, may be more common than previously thought, a new study suggests.
Firstly, there is nothing “controversial” about fracking. Fracking has been a common well completion practice for more than 50 years. The practice of large-scale fracking of shale formations is somewhat more recent… But even that practice is 30 years old. Mitchell Energy was fracking the Barnett Shale in North Texas and the Bossier Shale in East Texas back in the 1980’s.
Secondly, the study cited in the Live Science junk journalism did not relate fracking to earthquakes…
Frohlich, 2012 found no correlation between fracking and earthquakes… NONE, NADA, ZIP, ZERO-POINT-ZERO…
Most earthquakes identified in the study ranged in magnitude from 1.5 to 2.5, meaning they posed no danger to the public.
“I didn’t find any higher risks from disposal of hydraulic fracturing fluids than was thought before,” says Frohlich.”My study found more small quakes, nearly all less than magnitude 3.0, but just more of the smaller ones than were previously known. The risk is all from big quakes, which don’t seem to occur here.”
All the wells nearest to the eight earthquake groups reported high injection rates (maximum monthly injection rates exceeding 150,000 barrels of water). Yet in many other areas where wells had similarly high injection rates, there were no earthquakes. Frohlich tried to address those differences.
Texas map showing the Barnett Shale (gray) and rectangle indicating region mapped in figure 2. Credit: Cliff Frohlich/U. of Texas at Austin.
“It might be that an injection can only trigger an earthquake if injected fluids reach and relieve friction on a nearby fault that is already ready to slip,” says Frohlich. “That just isn’t the situation in many places.”
Hydraulic fracturing is an industrial process in which water and various chemicals are pumped deep underground in order to fracture rock, allowing oil or gas to more easily flow to a well. As petroleum is produced at the surface, most hydraulic fracturing fluids return to the surface too. Frohlich is careful to point out that he did not evaluate the possible correlation of earthquakes with the actual hydraulic fracturing process, but rather the effects of disposing of fracturing fluids and other wastes in these injection wells.
And finally, as I have previously posted, the induced seismicity from fracking and most injection operations is almost entirely nonpalpable.