Quakes, Fracking, Hysteria, and Energy Independence

Frack_butte

Anti-fracker in my town. Source: FrackinginButteCo https://www.facebook.com/FrackingInButteCounty

From Cornell University , another one of the numerous studies that tries to make fracking (via wastewater products) look bad because it is claimed to cause small earthquakes as far as 30km away, which seems more than a bit of a stretch to me. There’s quite a bit of irrational hysteria and outright lies surrounding the issue, so much so that terrified eco-activists in my own county successfully got a ballot initiative on the Nov 4th election to ban fracking, even though there hasn’t been an oil/gas well drilled here in 25 years, making the ban pretty much a moot point. Meanwhile the fracking process is set to help the U.S. overtake Saudi Arabia, so one wonders if the inconvenience of small quakes might be acceptable.

Oklahoma quakes induced by wastewater injection, study finds

ITHACA, N.Y. – The dramatic increase in earthquakes in central Oklahoma since 2009 is likely attributable to subsurface wastewater injection at just a handful of disposal wells, finds a new study published in the journal Science on July 3, 2014.

The research team was led by Katie Keranen, professor of geophysics at Cornell University, who says Oklahoma earthquakes constitute nearly half of all central and eastern U.S. seismicity from 2008 to 2013, many occurring in areas of high-rate water disposal.

“Induced seismicity is one of the primary challenges for expanded shale gas and unconventional hydrocarbon development. Our results provide insight into the process by which the earthquakes are induced and suggest that adherence to standard best practices may substantially reduce the risk of inducing seismicity,” said Keranen. “The best practices include avoiding wastewater disposal near major faults and the use of appropriate monitoring and mitigation strategies.”

The study also concluded:

  • Four of the highest-volume disposal wells in Oklahoma (~0.05% of wells) are capable of triggering ~20% of recent central U.S. earthquakes in a swarm covering nearly 2,000 square kilometers, as shown by analysis of modeled pore pressure increase at relocated earthquake hypocenters.
  • Earthquakes are induced at distances over 30 km from the disposal wells. These distances are far beyond existing criteria of 5 km from the well for diagnosis of induced earthquakes.
  • The area of increased pressure related to these wells continually expands, increasing the probability of encountering a larger fault and thus increasing the risk of triggering a higher-magnitude earthquake.

“Earthquake and subsurface pressure monitoring should be routinely conducted in regions of wastewater disposal and all data from those should be publicly accessible. This should also include detailed monitoring and reporting of pumping volumes and pressures,” said Keranen. ‘In many states the data are more difficult to obtain than for Oklahoma; databases should be standardized nationally. Independent quality assurance checks would increase confidence. “

###

Top marks though to Cornell researchers, who made their data and SI available here, along with the paper. Contrast that to NOAA/NCDC that puts their papers behind the paywall of the AMS.

Download the study, data, and SI: https://cornell.box.com/okquakes

About these ads

113 thoughts on “Quakes, Fracking, Hysteria, and Energy Independence

  1. It’s the usual problem here … never let the truth get in the way of a good (deceitful) story pushed by the anti-fracking eco-warriors!

  2. Is there a scientific reason (standard) that the study uses kilometers instead of miles in its report?

  3. This activity has nothing to do with fracking.
    The fact that wastewater disposal can augment earthquake activity has been known for decades.
    The process actually lubricates the fault lines and permits shifting at the fault line.
    We could argue all day whether this is a good thing.:
    Small earthquakes take the pressure off and reduce the chances of a big one.
    On the other hand it’s not nice to fool with mother nature.
    So many countries around the world are cautious about this activity in seismic regions.
    But to conflate this activity with fracking is dishonest. (And I don’t think the authors intend it) Fracking liquids go directly into the porous rock. It can cause small tremors, just as an underground explosion would, but it has never led to an earthquake.

  4. Might be some truth in the problem as refered. But the real problem with fracking is the risk of not having enough Clean Water for people and animals in areas due to consequences for so called “Ground Water”.

    Nothing is simple when it comes to energy questions. Usually most on pro resp con sides forgotten to do a major consequence check before taking sides.

  5. If you look at the detailed map of Oklahoma earthquakes from USGS, they are occurring where the fracking is taking place, in the oil fields that surround the large Cushing refineries. I mean the clusters are centred right at individual oil developments as you zoom-in tighter and tighter.

    But the main reason there is oil here is because there is a strike-slip fault zone, sometimes called the Nemaha fault zone.

    The first recorded earthquake on this fault line was in 1918. There was a 6.0 magnitude earthquake in 1929. Both just outside Oklahoma City, more-or-less where the current series of earthquakes are occurring.

    Fracking may not be helping but there were already earthquakes in the same area long before fracking or any oil developments.

    Now we do know that some types of drilling and, especially, large-scale hydro-thermal projects cause moderate-sized earthquakes. The two largest hydro-thermal projects outside of Iceland have been shut down as a result.

  6. Since this nearly 65 year old solution was first deployed, the U.S. has passed one million wells and the worldwide number is more than two million. The researchers need to clearly state the difference in Oklahoma. At first reading, they have a daunting task ahead.

  7. @Daveandrews, the entire rest of the world of science uses SI, using archaic units there for a science paper is likely to get laughed at.

  8. I keep saying that a small quake triggered by fracking is a large quake in the future averted as it releases energy that will otherwise continue to accumulate. That would make frequent small and harmless quakes a good thing.

  9. I have worked on old Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) programs TED and BUFF. They stand for Total Energy Independence and Battle Field Use Fuel of the Future. These programs were in response to the US becoming too dependent on imported crude (nearly 70% at that time). The idea was to convert our abundant coal resources into hydrocarbon fuel using gasification followed by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. this produces clean paraffinic fuel useful in jet and diesel applications, which are just what the military needs. We could produce more energy from coal than exists in the Middle East, and then there are methane hydrates if we ever run low on coal. Methane Hydrates represent something like 10x the reserves of oil, so there is more energy available well into the future. All can be cleanly converted into energy dense liquid hydrocarbon fuels for use in aircraft and ground equipment.
    But the TED and BUFF programs were scrapped due to environmentalists being totally against Coal to Liquids even though we can reduce the CO2 emissions to near zero for the process as they just hate coal in any form or use. Now we can actually see a future with much reduced dependence on foreign fuel form states that do not like us and the environmental movement wants to stop that too. Maybe there are other motives here that are not as obvious from a surface view.
    Fortunately, we have enough NG now to begin a GTL industry that produces fuel that can be used directly in the existing infrastructure and equipment, something that many renewable resources cannot claim.

  10. ponysboy says:
    July 5, 2014 at 5:51 am

    “Small earthquakes take the pressure off and reduce the chances of a big one.”

    There is no real evidence to support this assertion.
    In fact swarms of small earthquakes are an indicator of an imminent eruption in volcanology

  11. What are magnitudes of these quakes? Did these become apparent only after seismometers were installed? (We had a joke at UofU that an aseismic region is one without seismometers.) What are the magnitudes of fluid withdrawl and injection? It appears to me they are looking at injection only. And using MODFLOW for a model of this size with so little input data with regard to rock properties? MODFLOW has been misused, and I’m not saying dishonestly, to promote anti-development agendas elsewhere, and often the modelers seem unaware of the misuse. Finally, a delta P of 50kPa triggers earthquakes?

    Technically a magnitude 2.0 and 6.0 are both earthquakes, but there is no comparing their results.

  12. I heard the author being interviewed on the BBC-WS. What they are talking about is normal oil extraction where the oil comes up along with a lot of saline. After separating out the oil, the saline is re-injected, not in exactly the same place, but a short distance away.

    It is not injected at. Anything like the pressures used in fracking. No matter how hard the interviewer tried to tie the two, the interviewee kept insisting that the two are very different.

    What wasn’t touched upon is the increased probability of problems if the waterways not replaced.
    Also not touched was that the small earthquakes are relieving pressure, helping to reduce the probability of a much larger event if all the pressure should be relieved at once.

  13. Bill Illis says:
    July 5, 2014 at 6:00 am

    If you look at the detailed map of Oklahoma earthquakes from USGS, they are occurring where the fracking is taking place, in the oil fields that surround the large Cushing refineries.
    __________________
    There are no large (or any) Cushing refineries. Fracking is taking place all over the state and this article has little to do with fracking,
    The earthquakes have been occurring where they always have occurred. The injection wells in question may have increased earthquake occurrences in the fault zones, but there is nothing new, here. Certain areas in Oklahoma are fault- ridden and earthquake prone and always have been. When I was a boy in Oklahoma, I first heard the old saw that there are almost as many earthquakes in Oklahoma as in California, but they are small and hardly noticeable.

  14. That there is “fracking hysteria” among the Alarmist/Warmists has been known for a long time.

    Nothing earth shaking about it.

    /grin

  15. Philip says:
    July 5, 2014 at 6:45 am

    “Also not touched was that the small earthquakes are relieving pressure, helping to reduce the probability of a much larger event”
    ..

    Again, there is no evidence for this assertion.
    For example look at the Santa Cruz Island event(s) starting in January of 2013.

  16. The only reason O&G companies reinject the waste water is because treatment is more expensive. There are lots of industry wastewater companies who could easily (though not cheaply) treat that water to good as new (wonderful property of water) on or off-site, but remote locations, transportation restrictions and costs are relatively too high. (I observed the first fracing operation of my career in 1966 or 67.)

  17. No information on depth of wastewater injection operations. How does it compare with typical fracking operation depths? Similarly for hydro-thermal? And for potable water extraction?

    Other areas in which fracking companies need to explain their case to counter scaremongering include:
    How long does the drilling derrick typically remain on site? There are (possibly unfounded) fears of unsightly intrusion into landscapes.
    How much water is typically injected initially? How much is it “polluted”? Is it tankered to site, or pipelined? How much is recovered, and is it removed from site (perhaps for re-use)?
    What remains on site after remediation in the way of wellhead gear? How is gas removed from site (presumably by pipeline)?
    Typically how long before a well needs re-fracking, what gear is involved, and how long does it remain on site?

  18. Sorry, but the 30 km distance sounds a little far to me. Besides, normal permitting requirements (that I’m aware of) don’t allow, or severely restrict, injection pressures above the injection zone formation fracture pressure for the simple reason that if the fracture length is long enough it might reach “out of zone”, meaning the disposal fluid would flow out of the intended disposal horizon. Depending on the disposal zone depth and specific gravity of the injection fluid (if it’s produced water and not potable then it will have some total dissolved solids and hence somewhat heavier than fresh water) the static column pressure at the injection zone formation face can actually exceed the formation frac (yes, that is spelled correctly) pressure which may complicate the permitting process.

    Or, if the static column is below but close to the frac pressure, the injection flowing pressures, depending on the injection rate, will more than likely exceed the frac pressure. This can easily be determined by doing a step rate test and is, if I’m not mistaken, usually done as part of the initial preparation of the well for injection. The test is done by injecting fluid into the well at known rates in a step wise manner. The first step is at a “low” rate and continued until the surface injection pressure is stable. The injection rate is increased by a set amount and the pressure noted, again, when stable. This process in continued until either the pressure limitations of the surface equipment or the downhole tubulars is reached or the formation frac pressure is reached. When the frac pressure is reached the surface injection pressure will actually fall sharply indicating that the formation has parted giving the injection fluid an easy path away from the wellbore with a corresponding sharp increase in the injection rate. I’ve actually done this test with the installed surface injection equipment to find out the limitations of an existing disposal well prior to some modification we were planning. (And, no, the injection pumps didn’t reach the frac pressure as the belts started slipping before that point.)

    Disposal well permitting is a very rigorous process and not taken lightly by the state authorities nor the operating company. Injection wells are permitted (there are several permit “classes”) for the type of fluid to be disposed, volume injected, and so on, and are monitored by the state (at least in Wyoming they are) pretty closely. The state can, and probably, will inspect the well for initial compliance of the installed equipment to the permit and probably witnesses periodic pressure tests of the wellhead and downhole tubulars over the life of the well. Injecting over the permitted amount or injecting non-permitted fluids (a definite no-no) can get the operator into serious trouble with large fines and possible cancellation of the permit by the state.

    And as a further note, what makes anyone think that the sharp petroleum engineers at OU, OSU, the State of Oklahoma, etc. don’t know all about this and found out that it’s of no concern? For crying out loud, fraccing (yes, that is the correct spelling, look it up in Halliburton’s books) was invented in OK or right in that area. I’m pretty sure these engineer know what they are doing. I’ve felt numerous 3-4M earthquakes (in HI) and they are no big deal and of no consequence anyway.

  19. chuck says:
    July 5, 2014 at 6:41 am

    ponysboy says:
    July 5, 2014 at 5:51 am

    “Small earthquakes take the pressure off and reduce the chances of a big one.”
    ——–
    There is no real evidence to support this assertion.
    In fact swarms of small earthquakes are an indicator of an imminent eruption in volcanology
    _________________
    That’s just great. Oklahomans already live with floods, earthquakes, huge hail and tornadoes and next, volcanoes?

    All you Blue- staters who are looking to relocate someplace for work, keep this in mind. Also, we don’t have any good places to fish, nor hunt, our women are contrary as the dickens and we’ll out- vote your silly notions which you’ve been bringing here with you.
    (You can’t drive down the street without seeing California license plates all over the place, so it’s worth a shot.)

  20. “ponysboy says:
    July 5, 2014 at 5:51 am

    “Small earthquakes take the pressure off and reduce the chances of a big one.”

    There is no real evidence to support this assertion.
    In fact swarms of small earthquakes are an indicator of an imminent eruption in volcanology”

    You are talking about different things. Small quakes are associated with volcanic activity, but large earthquakes have been shown to be associated with a pause in small earthquake activity.
    So, maybe fracking around active volcanoes, isn’t a good idea, but fracking around known fault lines may actually prevent damage.

  21. Count_to_10 says:
    July 5, 2014 at 7:04 am

    Please review my post with link to “Earthquake Mythology”

  22. Katie Keranen was offered the chance to see 3D seismic data, taken by Oil & Gas companies and shared with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulators, which showed where the ACTUAL fault locations near some injection wells were (& were not) – as opposed to her theorized locations. She declined to bother viewing the data.

  23. Why are we not hearing same type of concern being expressed over similar microquake activity related to “renewable” geothermal energy operations here in California. Take a look at the earthquake pages for the numerous quakes at the Clear Lake and Salton Sea geothermal fields. And the Salton Sea fields are immediately adjacent to the San Andreas Faut…….

  24. It is accepted as probable by the geology world that small quakes along a strike-slip fault like the San Andreas fault in California do reduce the severity of potential quakes. Volcanic cluster quakes are of course much different than lateral s/s quakes, and are not the question here.

  25. Fhsiv
    I assume you are jesting….the “green” geothermal development are critical, and of course fracking is done by Big Oil!!! Need I say more?,

  26. fhsiv says:
    July 5, 2014 at 7:12 am

    Why are we not hearing same type of concern being expressed over similar microquake activity related to “renewable” geothermal energy operations here in California.
    ==============================================================
    Because geothermal-induced earthquakes are renewable. Duh.

  27. Chuck says: “There is no real evidence to support this assertion.
    In fact swarms of small earthquakes are an indicator of an imminent eruption in volcanology”
    In fact, fore shocks always reduce the intensity of the following main shock. There just is no reliable way of determining the extent of the reduction in built up forces because the relative magnitude is so low. Source: USGS.

  28. There was an earthquake recently in the DFW area. The reporting on the quake caught the impact of these small quakes perfectly.

    In a metroplex of millions of people, the news report covering the quake stated “Dozens of people actually felt the tremor”.

    Unofficially, I heard that it was so severe that someone’s throw pillow actually fell off their couch. But it may have been off balance to start with.

  29. The imposition of dirty, noisy and – perhaps – uneconomical practices upon small communities who are given no voice or right of refusal has led fracking to be enormously unpopular. The push for fracking seems in haste for energy security[sic] given the political uncertainty in those parts of the world that have had the temerity to build their civilizations over the wests resources. The pollution and removal of ancient land rights enrage people who feel insulted by the greed of those with no interest or knowledge in local desires and practices. Thus, I feel it is a grave mistake to offer up any support for it here – just at the point when people are beginning to listen to the ideas and sound science behind the dismissal of the nonsense that is MMGW. If the ideas behind fracking become too conflated with the ideas behind the resistance to Gore-ism, I fear the results will be a setback to everything this wonderful site is aiming for and has worked so hard to achieve.

  30. We need to distinguish between earthquakes caused by fracking, and those caused by high volume disposal of liquid waste products. The largest earthquakes by far are those caused by disposal. There has been an earthquake as high as 5.7 on the Richter scale caused by disposal wells in Oklahoma. That big, and you can have several thousand dollars of damage to your house. The ones caused by actual fracking are usually between 1 and 2, barely noticeable if you are right on top. Big difference.

    If wastewater was recycled more, there would be much less need for disposal wells. And places like Oklahoma and Texas often don’t have all that much water to spare. If the industry wants to avoid a PR disaster the first time someone is killed by an earthquake caused by disposal, they have to recycle water more. It will cost a bit more, but it will be worth it.

    Face it, none of us would want a magnitude 5 earthquake near our house. Fracking is very good for the US. It makes tons of tax money for cash starved states (Pennsylvania in particular), provides many jobs, reduces our imports. The industry can afford to recycle water a lot more to reduce the bigger earthquakes caused by disposal well.

  31. Chuck in your earthquake myth site the statement was that small quakes do not PREVENT Large quakes….. Again not to the question.
    It is accepted that the small quakes REDUCE the severity of the large quakes

  32. When you start looking at the study, you find that there isn’t a trend of increased earthquakes over time near the fracking-disposal wells. For that matter, aside from one small swarm in one year, the fracking well area itself is pretty light on seismic activity. So, supposedly, fracking disposal wells ONLY cause earthquakes at a distance, not near the wells themselves.

    … but there is a trend in areas with active seismic stations, to the point that, using their methodology, one would conclude that earthquakes are caused by seismographs.

  33. ponysboy says:
    July 5, 2014 at 7:46 am

    “In fact, fore shocks always reduce the intensity of the following main shock.”

    Not only is there no evidence for this assertion, it is in fact unprovable You even admit to this in your own post.

  34. latecommer2014 says:
    July 5, 2014 at 7:58 am

    “It is accepted that the small quakes REDUCE the severity of the large quakes”

    That is an unproven assertion. In fact there is no way to actually make any kind of measurement that can verify it.

  35. norah4you says:
    July 5, 2014 at 5:52 am
    “…But the real problem with fracking is the risk of not having enough Clean Water for people and animals in areas due to consequences for so called “Ground Water”…”

    With millions of wells drilled and hydraulic fracturing being used since the 1940′s, there has not been ONE single instance of ground water contamination due to hydro-fracturing. This in spite of multiple EPA studies trying to find one in order to have a basis to regulate (read shut down) the process.

    nickreality65 says:
    July 5, 2014 at 6:54 am
    “…The only reason O&G companies reinject the waste water is because treatment is more expensive. There are lots of industry wastewater companies who could easily (though not cheaply) treat that water to good as new…”

    Produced water is highly saline. It is co-produced with the oil. It comes out of the ground that way when it is “new”. It is re-injected into deep saline aquifers (not shallow potable aquifers). It is treated before it is re-injected to make it better than “new”. Hydro-fracturing liquids generally are captured and re-used when practical.

  36. “Bill Illis says: July 5, 2014 at 6:00 am
    If you look at the detailed map of Oklahoma earthquakes from USGS, they are occurring where the fracking is taking place, in the oil fields that surround the large Cushing refineries. I mean the clusters are centred right at individual oil developments as you zoom-in tighter and tighter…”

    How odd. If you check out the maps provided in the research, the earthquake swarms were not at or even near the wells. One of the reasons they included such a long range 25km for quake causation.

    “chuck says: July 5, 2014 at 6:52 am

    Philip says: July 5, 2014 at 6:45 am

    “Also not touched was that the small earthquakes are relieving pressure, helping to reduce the probability of a much larger event..”

    Again, there is no evidence for this assertion.
    For example look at the Santa Cruz Island event(s) starting in January of 2013.”

    Another very odd statement out of the blue; couple that with Chuck’s previous comment and apparently we can expect a volcano to erupt in Oklahoma one absolutely zero evidence.

    Or, perhaps Chuck is expecting a massive tectonic shift similar to the Santa Cruz 2013 event which lies within a very active earthquake zone?

    Well, that last one might be closer than we normally consider for Oklahoma. Half of Oklahoma lies within the New Madrid earthquake zone. Just outside of that zone lies the Meers fault a strike slip fault. At this point in time, faults directly affected by the New Madrid fault (a potential rift zone) are not well defined. Looking at the Meers fault line, it is curiously isolated, especially for an active strike slip fault.

    The research paper is rather horrible. There is not a defined test method nor a list of possible influences and causes. One assumption going in and one assumption coming out.

    Instead the paper proceeds right in assuming that injection fluids cause earthquakes and the path to results are tailored to find coincidences that can appear to be correlations so causation is assumed.

    At no point in the research is there any determination that X well injection caused X1 quake. Let alone exactly how that particular injection managed to A) force a quake or B) cause a release of tension in a particular fault. There is no attempt to determine stress.

    Which brings up another anomalous question regarding fracking caused quakes; serious earthquake research teams spend a lot of time and money studying the most well defined fault zones in the world and they are unable to definitively link specific cause to specific effect. Generalize, yes; specifically identify, no. Yet Cornell researchers supposedly do this with a terribly planned and executed study? What a hoot!

  37. The term earthquake or tremor has more alarming freight than the word warming or change. Little does it matter that some folks have a vibrating easy chair or bed to ease tension and loosen up muscles that gives more shake than these tremors. And hey what about the bull riding machine at the local bar?

    From a psychological standpoint, it doesn’t matter that the oil industry has been re-pressuring spent reservoirs for secondary recovery since 1926:

    http://books.google.ca/books?id=9cO8wnaDXIkC&pg=PA463&lpg=PA463&dq=history+of+water+gas+flooding+repressuring+of+oil+reservoirs&source=bl&ots=xxxNf4_sq0&sig=AMxFmyYtcIJ-A1KXK1XX1zYzbWg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1BS4U86lDZezyATMqILADw&ved=0CCQQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=history%20of%20water%20gas%20flooding%20repressuring%20of%20oil%20reservoirs&f=false

    and where all the disasters before this technique was discovered by activists and the general public in the last few years.

    Dumbing down in education is definitely a deliberate tool required to set up scaresfor the ignorant by those who want to tear down the engines of prosperity (and particularly that of the USA).

  38. Do these people know that repressuring wells for secondary recovery through pumping down water or gas has been a standard technique since 1926:

    http://books.google.ca/books?id=9cO8wnaDXIkC&pg=PA463&lpg=PA463&dq=history+of+water+gas+flooding+repressuring+of+oil+reservoirs&source=bl&ots=xxxNf4_sq0&sig=AMxFmyYtcIJ-A1KXK1XX1zYzbWg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1BS4U86lDZezyATMqILADw&ved=0CCQQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=history%20of%20water%20gas%20flooding%20repressuring%20of%20oil%20reservoirs&f=false

    I always knew the dumbing down in education was designed to make people more dependent on governmnent but I didn’t think it through that dummies would be publishing this kind of ancient stuff in “Science”.

  39. ATheoK says:
    July 5, 2014 at 8:12 am
    ..
    “apparently we can expect a volcano to erupt in Oklahoma”

    Obviously you have missed the forest for the trees.
    The point I was making did not assert that there would be volcanoes in Oklahoma. It was a specific instance showing that small earthquakes do ***NOT*** relieve stress, or prevent subsequent shocks.

    Using a clear and evident example that dispels a myth must be an debate technique unrecognizable to you.

  40. John says:
    July 5, 2014 at 7:54 am
    “If wastewater was recycled more, therewould be much less need for disposal wells. And places like Oklahoma and Texas often don’t have all that much water to spare. ”
    _________
    A high percentage of the injected fluids are salt water, flowing from depth to wellhead and then transported to and re- injected at disposal wells. In older, depleting fields, salt water injection wells have been used, at least since the 60′s, to force remaining hydrocarbons from the rock.
    ——-
    Oklahoma is one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet, running downhill from arid High plains Rocky Mt. plateau in the Northwest, to cypress swamps in the Southeast. There’s plenty of water in the eastern part of state, but if you can figure out how to get it to the dry west, then be sure and let us know…
    By the way, Oklahomans are an enterprising bunch and have created myriad lakes and impoundments and as a result, there’s more shoreline in Oklahoma than on the US Eastern Seaboard and the US Gulf Coast combined.

  41. But of course putting megatons of carbon dioxide underground as part of CCS could not possibly have any adverse consequences….

  42. chuck says:
    July 5, 2014 at 8:19 am

    “…small earthquakes do ***NOT*** relieve stress, or prevent subsequent shocks. ”
    _________________
    That’s not exactly true. Small quakes do relieve stresses, but there just aren’t enough small quakes to prevent the inevitable big ones. The USGS position is that injection wells might indeed trigger earthquakes along faults sooner than they would have naturally occurred, but I’m unaware of a USGS statement as to the extent that any injection- caused quakes alleviate larger stresses. Considering the political climate in which the USGS operates, the lack of such a statement comes as no surprise. However, small quake stress relief is acknowledged within the USGS literature and one can easily read between the lines…

  43. chuck says:
    July 5, 2014 at 8:04 am

    latecommer2014 says:
    July 5, 2014 at 7:58 am

    “It is accepted that the small quakes REDUCE the severity of the large quakes”

    “That is an unproven assertion. In fact there is no way to actually make any kind of measurement that can verify it.”

    chuck, you probably aren’t an engineer. If you inject fluids under pressure broadly (fracking, repressuring reservoirs) into a significantly stressed field, there is little doubt you can assist in movement on faults. If you inject into a generally non stressed field with no active faults, you can initiate very local movement on new fractures – gee whiz fracking is designed to actually fracture the rock in the reservoir! The fracking fluids are pumped down at a pressure of about 80% of the lithostatic pressure to induce fractures at selected points from the well bore. Imagine pumping it down at 100% in sufficient volume, you would rupture more than the formation you intended to. There is nothing magical about stress in rock whether natural or induced. Your little quakes prior to volcanic activity are just fracturing because of fluid pressure – the same thing.

    Now your assertion that there is no way to make measurements to verify it is wrong. It would probably be too expensive and foolhardy to do the test, but if the San Andreas is under growing stress, you could frac along the fault for hundreds of miles and various depths with fluids approaching 100% litho pressure and get some data to correlate with it.

  44. I live in one of the areas of ‘fracking central’ and if all the energy consumed by the anti crowd and their misinformation were eliminated, the need for fracking would likely be reduced by a noticeable amount.

  45. “John says: July 5, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Here is the link for the 5.7 earthquake near Prague, Oklahoma caused by disposal wells, not by fracking: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/11/energy-earthquake-oklahoma-idUSL2N0M80SP20140311.

    In spite of alarmist claims, there is zero evidence linking that earthquake to a wells of any kind.
    Prague Oklahoma is no stranger to earthquakes, plus it is well inside the New Madrid zone. At 3.1 (5km) deep, just which disposal well supposedly caused the two big Prague earthquakes (4.6 and 5.6) on 11-05-2011, not forgetting the dozens of after shocks.

    USGS issuing a statement justifying the presidents opposition to oil or coal is no unexpected. Read the science not the alarmist media release.

    Or do you plan to claim that disposal well fluids also caused the Powhatan Virginia 5.8 quake in the August 2011?

    Coincidence is not correlation, correlation is not causation! Preparing lists of earthquakes and then assuming local activity by mankind causes them is utter BS. Causation must be proved!

    Consider before jumping to any conclusion the sheer scale of an earthquake. Earthquakes are measured on a logarithmic scale where quake difference between 4.6 to 5.6 indicates a tenfold increase in amplitude but represents 31 times the energy of the lower quake. Attributing such massive releases of energy to virtually any activity of man borders on bizarre. Especially when the earthquake energy for all of the quakes allegedly caused by well fluids is totaled.

  46. “chuck says: July 5, 2014 at 8:19 am
    Obviously you have missed the forest for the trees.
    The point I was making did not assert that there would be volcanoes in Oklahoma. It was a specific instance showing that small earthquakes do ***NOT*** relieve stress, or prevent subsequent shocks.

    Using a clear and evident example that dispels a myth must be an debate technique unrecognizable to you.

    I must’ve missed your clear and evident examples… Evident, isn’t that one of those robust words the alarmists love, along with that well defined scientific word ‘clear’?

    Now about ‘dispels your myths’; as noted above you are obviously not an engineer, nor are you a geologist or seismologist. There is a well known earthquake movement function called ‘creep’ which describes the rate of slip in a strike/slip fault.
    Steady-state creep means frequent small movements that appear to avoid the drastic large and destructive fault movements which are termed ‘episodic’ creep. Small creep movements which are measured by seismometers as small earthquakes relieve the fault stresses without catastrophic impacts. Where fault stress builds till the fault is forced to move literally sheering rock as the fault sides slide past each other makes for very catastrophic earthquakes.

  47. Chuck: I agree that volcanism produces earthquakes before an eruption. Have you ever been to central Oklahoma? Not a volcano to be found. And, as I recall, years back in California there was some talk about injecting fluids into fault zones for the express purpose of inducing miniquakes. Never done, I guess. Maybe they were afraid that they would lubricate into a massive quake and face massive legal problems.

  48. Chuck. I said it is accepted (not proven). You emphatically state they do not reduce stress. Now prove your not generally accepted hypothesis ( by working geologists)

  49. Frac fluids are measures in gallons.. Water cut is measured in barrels. Frac fluid flows back once, water cut increases every day a well produces
    They lubricated the faults by injecting enormous volumes of water produced from wells which produce 95 % water, 5% oil. It has nothing to do with fracking.

  50. I’d rather frack than deal with ISIS. Prolonged war or a slight tremour. The choice is your America.

  51. ” chuck says: July 5, 2014 at 6:41 am
    ponysboy says:July 5, 2014 at 5:51 am
    “Small earthquakes take the pressure off and reduce the chances of a big one.”
    There is no real evidence to support this assertion.
    In fact swarms of small earthquakes are an indicator of an imminent eruption in volcanology”

    It might be helpful to consider the amount of energy involved. Fracking might involve 100 megapascals of pressure, while seismologists discuss earthquakes in terms of gigapascals – at least an order of magnitude greater.

    Using a seismologically small amount of pressure to relieve a larger amount, will necessarily make that larger amount unavailable for a future quake. As the pressure would have continued to build, the future quake would have been larger. So yes, “Small earthquakes take the pressure off and reduce the chances of a big one.”

  52. betapug says:
    July 5, 2014 at 9:44 am

    “Grotesque McKibben projects 1000% more earthquakes this year using falsified MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow graphics:”

    _________________
    The comments attached to that piece you linked are eye- opening. There seems to be only one comment made which supports scientific truth. That author was immediately attacked, including calls for his death. What an enlightened bunch.

  53. ATheoK says:
    July 5, 2014 at 8:12 am
    ” Half of Oklahoma lies within the New Madrid earthquake zone.” Au Contraire my friend. The New Madrid Seismic Zone(http://www.dnr.mo.gov/geology/geosrv/geores/techbulletin1.htm) lies almost entiriely in Arkansas and includes parts of Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois and Tennessee. The Meers Fault is in southwestern Oklahoma (close to Lawton) and is more likely related to the thrusting that created the Arbuckle Mtns.

    • The buried Nemaha Ridge and associated faults runs from the OK City area north into Kansas, many (not all) of the recent quakes have been along this.

  54. Unless one enjoys arguing with Eco fanatics and becoming a hieratic in their eyes, one stays away from such sites. I consider it demeaning to converse with useful idiots.

  55. the comment here seem to miss the point.the don’t care about earthquakes the just hate American freedoms and wish to destroy them one unint of energy at a time

  56. Okay… so Cornell, takes some data… makes a model and then claims that agreement between the data and their model Proves their analysis is right. What they did NOT do, is make predictions for the next ten years about the magnitude, location and frequency of earthquakes for the next ten years. If the model is totally useless for predictions, then it is also totally useless for past analysis in my humble opinion. This is just another propaganda tool being used by the Progressives to shut down fracking. In actuality, if fracking is contributing to very minor earthquakes, that is probably a good thing anyways, as it is much better to have a multitude of tiny earth quakes rather than a large mag 7 or 8 earthquake.

  57. Good to hear that the Left finally gives up on Geothermal; which is everywhere outside Iceland a rather disappointingly low energy density solution and extremely unsustainable. And causes Earthquakes.

  58. latecommer2014 says:
    July 5, 2014 at 10:56 am
    “Unless one enjoys arguing with Eco fanatics and becoming a hieratic in their eyes, one stays away from such sites. I consider it demeaning to converse with useful idiots.”

    In real life they are interesting audience – you totally dismember what they thought were their arguments and they KEEP COMING BACK FOR MORE. Really. It’s like their unconscious drives them towards punishment because it wants to learn. It’s very painful to them and leaves them shaken. I enjoy it a lot.

  59. I keep telling these idiots (in the UK), that i understand and respect their concerns. And i further demand that they turn off their own gas supply, so they are not tainted by abject hypocrisy.

    Strangely enough, every single one of them has refused to turn off their gas supplies.

    R

  60. ponysboy says:
    July 5, 2014 at 5:51 am
    “On the other hand it’s not nice to fool with mother nature.”

    All these years Nature tried to make you freeze to death, eat you, sting you, poison you, and now that Nature is on the receiving end you’re whining?

  61. mjc says:
    July 5, 2014 at 8:51 am
    I live in one of the areas of ‘fracking central’ and if all the energy consumed by the anti crowd and their misinformation were eliminated, the need for fracking would likely be reduced by a noticeable amount.
    ======================================================================
    Thanks for that comment. I have wells all around me – and what the oil/gas exploration has done is create hundreds of miles of trails for riding horses and for game to use. New seismic techniques use GPS and curvilinear trails that make the trails useful for all forms of animal life. Deer, elk, moose, bear, coyotes, wolves, cougars and all the many other critters are in abundance and totally adapted to the many wells around here. No worse than other activities, even farming. Well actually farms probably makes a bigger hole in the environment than the oil industry. Everything we do punches a hole somewhere – but most things are highly adaptable and resilient. Coyotes and ravens learn to follow the hay mower and eat mice ad infinitum.

  62. There is a running debate about small earthquakes relieving the stress of a larger one. I’m adding my two cents here. If the small induced earthquake occurs within the stress field of the hypothetical larger and subsequent one, then theoretically it does relieve some strain energy of the larger one. However, as each two magnitudes represent one-thousand times more stress or strain energy release, one ought to see that the energy released in a single magnitude six is equivalent to one-million magnitude twos, small earthquakes cannot relieve energy in large ones in a practical sense.

  63. As has been pointed out already there is a difference between fracking and injection wells. Most people don’t realize how much water oil & gas wells produce. That water needs to be put somewhere. This article in Science is being used to confirm that fracking causes earthquakes in the headlines of the media, when in fact it is injection wells. The link below discusses water produced by oil & gas production.

    http://aqwatec.mines.edu/produced_water/intro/pw/index.htm

  64. Kaboom says: “… a large quake in the future averted as it releases energy that will otherwise continue to accumulate. That would make frequent small and harmless quakes a good thing.”

    Unfortunately for those living in the area, those frequent small quakes are anything but harmless. Companies performing the waster water injection should be required to reimburse those living in frequent small and harmful quake areas for damage done to their homes, buildings, and property.

  65. Steve from Rockwood says: “article in Science is being used to confirm that fracking causes earthquakes in the headlines of the media, when in fact it is injection wells. ”

    Does it really matter to those suffering costly property damage whether it is the fracking, the injection wells, or combination of both?

    • Yes, since 95% of the water being injected is from the old long producing oil and gas fields, some >50 years since discovery, and NOT from the modern horizontal fractured wells.

  66. Alcheson says: “… as it is much better to have a multitude of tiny earth quakes rather than a large mag 7 or 8 earthquake.”

    Large earthquake – rebuild once. Death by axe.
    Multitude of tiny earthquakes – repair and rebuild multitude of times. Death by a thousand paper cuts.

  67. Jimbo says: “I’d rather frack than deal with ISIS. Prolonged war or a slight tremour. The choice is your America.”

    Simple choice when you are not having to pay for “slight tremour” induced property damages.

  68. “Induced seismicity is one of the primary challenges for expanded shale gas and unconventional hydrocarbon development….”

    I also see in the anti-fracking image above the Sierra Club.

    It’s good to see that the Sierra Club has now seen the light. Maybe the gas industry wanted to make it relatively cheaper to frack by attacking coal. They needed to pave the way, and the Sierra Club helped them out. But no more I see.

    Source: Time – 2 February 2012
    “TIME has learned that between 2007 and 2010 the Sierra Club accepted over $25 million in donations from the gas industry, mostly from Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy—one of the biggest gas drilling companies in the U.S. and a firm heavily involved in fracking—to help fund the Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. Though the group ended its relationship with Chesapeake in 2010″

    http://science.time.com/2012/02/02/exclusive-how-the-sierra-club-took-millions-from-the-natural-gas-industry-and-why-they-stopped/

  69. Darren Potter says:
    July 5, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Jimbo says: “I’d rather frack than deal with ISIS. Prolonged war or a slight tremour. The choice is your America.”

    Simple choice when you are not having to pay for “slight tremour” induced property damages.

    American lives should be more important than a few cracks in a wall. By the way, show me the property damage. I’m sure it exists, but the evidence needs to be clear. For example it has to be from fracking only and not subsidence, blamed on fracking. I think you know what I’m asking here.

  70. Darren Potter says:
    July 5, 2014 at 6:08 pm ……

    Do you realise the amount of money and blood spent on wars with Iraq? Fracking can release America from dependence on oil from unstable and unfriendly regions. The war was not about democracy, it was about OIL. You worry about cracks in walls, you should worry more about long term American economic decline if you don’t frack. Sorry, but there it is.

  71. Call me a twisted hairpin, but as a resident of two of the most active regions of the Pacific Ring of Fire, I must admit that I actually enjoy magnitude 6 & 7 earthquakes & look forward to them, since both the Pacific NW & Chile have invested in seismic-safe structure engineering.

    I also admit however that I’m glad I wasn’t in Concepcion for the magnitude 8.8 (sixth largest ever recorded on a seismograph) 27 Feb 2010 event. Had I not decided to fly back to the US earlier than usual that year (a day before the quake), I’d have been stuck there for some time.

  72. ATheoK says: “In spite of alarmist claims, there is zero evidence linking that earthquake to a wells of any kind.”

    Start with old news – “The risk of setting off earthquakes by injecting fluid underground has been known since at least the 1960s, when injection at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal near Denver was suspended after a quake estimated at magnitude 4.8 or greater struck nearby—the largest tied to wastewater disposal until the one near Prague, Okla.”

    As of recently, “Oklahoma has had nearly double the number of earthquakes as California” and “Previously, the state averaged about one quake per year, but that has increased to at least one a day”. That would be increase of over 360 times.

    ATheoK says”: Coincidence is not correlation, correlation is not causation!”
    True, but ignoring possible linkage isn’t smart either.
    Faulkner county, Arkansas – “Days after the state’s oil and gas commission issue an emergency suspension on two injection wells, the number of reported earthquakes drops”
    Youngstown, Ohio – “For instance, the first earthquake recorded in Youngstown occurred 13 days after pumping began, and the tremors ceased shortly after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources shut down the well in December 2011. In addition, dips in earthquake activity lined up with Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and other times when injection at the well was temporarily stopped.”

  73. imbo says: “You worry about cracks in walls, you should worry more about long term American economic decline if you don’t frack. Sorry, but there it is.”

    Put your money where your mouth is and start paying for all “cracks in walls”.
    Sorry, but there it is.

  74. Jimbo says: “American lives should be more important than a few cracks in a wall. By the way, show me the property damage.”

    People were hurt in Prauge, OK earthquake. Had that quake happened in a major city instead of rural area, a lot of people would have been hurt and some killed.

    As for seeing damage, you have should gone by homes after the quake, like some of us did when visiting friends in area.

    What you deem “a few cracks in a wall” amount to cracked foundations, busted waterlines, crumbling brick walls, chimneys falling through roofs, warped door frames, entire buildings shifted off their foundations.

    Damages that ranged from few thousand to tens of thousands for homeowners. “The magnitude-5.6 convulsion toppled her chimney and buckled her tornado cellar. It inflicted about $50,000 in damage to the farmhouse she shares with her husband, John, and their two young children.” As for buildings, “Following the Prague earthquake, an historical building 18 km away lost a whole turret. The damage was in the millions of dollars.”

    Because few people in area had Earthquake insurance they are stuck with paying for all the damages out of their pockets. They will also be stuck without Earthquake insurance for future, even though normal periods without earthquakes have occurred, because insurance companies know the risk from further fracking / injection causing more earthquakes is too high. One company which did provide earthquake insurance has already pulled out of Oklahoma.

  75. What’s Oklahoma complaining about? In fact, I haven’t heard people living there complaining much if at all. Now let’s compare.

    If you haven’t seen this video showing mapped earthquakes around Japan before and after the Tohoku quake, it’s really amazing. It was very quiet around Sendai, until….

    And interestingly, it’s very quiet in the Ft. Tejon region of the San Andreas, but all around it has gotten progressively more active over the past 4 years. So what does that mean?

  76. Induced seismicity is a bizarre notion. Sure you can make the land shake with explosions or any other kinds of impact.

    What counts is the intensity of the seismic response. Given US building codes and the fact that the Richter scale is logarithmic, induced seismicity from fracking is not more harmful than induce seismicity from square dancing.

  77. The ME was relatively peaceful until the US meddled in it’s affairs. Terrorism is a response to outside threats and right now terrorism is a growth industry as the US, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar bankroll regime changes. The eruptions in Libya and Syria were insurgencies supported by the US and it’s allies, not peaceful demonstrations as reported by the compliant press, which have led to the ME going up in flames. The interventions and invasions have not been about oil for a long time, but about power and control. If there were no interventions all the countries of the ME would be pumping oil flat out as they need to sell it worse than the US or anyone else needs to buy it. Until recently. IMHO it is now about oil, making sure it never gets pumped. The wackies and their stooge Obama keeping oil off the market to force the world to renewables. Same with the US manufactured crisis in Ukraine and their demonizing and trying to sanction Russian oil and gas. The US resurgence of gas and oil is being done on the state and local level despite Obama doing everything he can to hinder it. For those commenting above about dealing with ISIS, just like Al Qaida and the Taliban, they are a result of ignorant failed policies of the power hungry trying to shape the world to their liking. Now Obama wants billions more to stoke the flames of the ME even higher.

  78. As a professional geologist from the State of Oklahoma I have to weigh in on this topic. Please understand that the best lies are often half or partial truths . Most if not all lies are supported by statistics. This is because they have no real supporting data. If they did they would have used it.

    For example: Global warming is a fact. The earth has generally warmed since the last ice age and no longer has huge continental ice sheets. But it is also a fact that humans had nothing to do with the thaw. Humans can change environments and do so all the time Think of draining a bog or altering the course of a river. However, the scale of our impacts are for the most part a trifle and localized.

    The alarmist formula:
    Fact: Globe is warmer + Fact: Humans change environments = Partial truth: Humans cause global warming. Supporting evidence: Statistics and models. Scape goat: Carbon dioxide.

    Now using the same alarmist formula: Fact: Humans can cause minor earthquakes injecting fluids into the ground. + Fact: There has been an increase in observed earthquakes in Oklahoma. = Partial Truth: Humans are the cause of the increased earthquakes. Supporting evidence: Statistics and models. Scape goat: Well stimulation hydraulic fracturing.

    Really? Is this what passes for science at our universities? The petroleum industry has been conducting similar waste water disposal operations for over 50 years and no one noticed significant damaging earthquakes until now. To top it off it took an academic team from New York state to mine this statistical cause information from the Oklahoma regulatory databases. Confirmation bias of this fashion is actually just another form of bigotry.

    Please consider that not all fluid injections are for waste brine disposal. These kinds of grant seeking academics in their zeal to stop irresponsible waste disposal (the alarmist perceived and artificial issue) will do significant damage to our counties petroleum reserves. To achieve efficient and full recovery of our ultimately recoverable reserves requires secondary and tertiary recovery efforts. What the heck do these people think a secondary recovery water flood or carbon dioxide pressure maintenance injection system does? Do these cause earthquakes as well?

    The unintended consequence of tar and feathering our brine waste disposal injections will potentially force us to leave 20 to 30 per cent of our known reserves in the ground. Unfortunately lies can have significant consequences. Therefore, this one needs to be confronted and debunked.

  79. nickreality65 says:
    July 5, 2014 at 6:54 am

    The only reason O&G companies reinject the waste water is because treatment is more expensive. There are lots of industry wastewater companies who could easily (though not cheaply) treat that water to good as new (wonderful property of water) on or off-site, but remote locations, transportation restrictions and costs are relatively too high. (I observed the first fracing operation of my career in 1966 or 67.)
    ______________________________

    You made a good point here saying “costs are relatively too high.” I suppose we all agree that fresh water is essential for humans, animals and agriculture of all kind. I am thinking about a certain quota of wastewater to be treated to meet drinking water standard and being fed into the freshwater systems. Thus, a company might centralize processing and deliver fresh water at certain transfer points and reinject wastewater from remote areas back into the ground somewhere in the wilderness. And I can well think about water being treated just to meet the standard of agricultural needs.

  80. FWIW. . . . . .

    About fracking, but I’ve seen so many lies from the tree huggers that I distrust ANYTHING that they claim. This is not inborn anti-tree-huggers; I had to LEARN this distrust.

    I live in central Mexico, so when someone on a forum posted a link to an article about fracking moving into Mexico, I thought I’d do a little looking into the assertions. . .

    The main claim was that the state of Nuevo León had had no quakes at all for like ten years and then from October 2013 to March 2014 they had like 31. Easy enough to check, I got on USGS and damned if they were not lying about that. So – lesson for me: sometimes tree huggers don’t lie. Still, there were a couple of things – like causation – to look into.

    http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/04/fracking-seismic-activity-grow-hand-hand-mexico/

    I found out the following:
    …(don’t take my numbers literally, but they are close enough)…

    1. The Nuevo León quakes all were in the really weak 3.5-4.3 range OR LESS – barely detectable if at all by humans without instruments. (People in the quake zone in southern Mexico wouldn’t even pay them any attention.)
    2. The ONLY fracking that had been done in that entire region was test wells – about 10 of them.
    3. IMMEDIATELY across the border in Texas, on a map is the densest population of WORKING fracking wells in the state, in the very same geological formation as the one south of the border.
    4. Quakes are pretty freaking rare ANYWHERE in Texas.
    5. The number of quakes in the whole history of Texas – all 240,000 sq miles of it – is listed below.
    6. The number of quakes within the fracking zone of Texas? Listed here:

    1882 Near or in OK or Arkansas
    1891 East Texas
    1917 Panhandle
    1925 Panhandle
    1931 West Texas (6.4)
    1932 Mexia-Wortham area
    1936 Panhandle
    1948 Panhandle
    1951 Panhandle
    1957 Near Arkansas and Louisiana border
    1964 Near Arkansas and Louisiana border on four days in late April (3.4 to 4.4)
    1966 Panhandle
    1969 Near El Paso 4 shocks (3.3 to 3.4 and less)
    1974 Panhandle

    After 1975 USGS shows only 22 quakes 2.5 or stronger, anywhere in southern Texas that were anywhere near the fracking zone. One was 4.8, one 4.1, and the other 20 were 3.9 or below. That is less than one quake every 2 years. Since 2000 the list shows 13 quakes into July of 2014. That is less than one quake per year.

    This is not knee-jerk skepticism. This is the real history of Texas quakes. If fracking was going to cause quakes anywhere, reason says it should be where fracking is done the most.

    On that front, this one is a 1000% STRIKEOUT by the tree-huggers. Not only do they not have causation in Texas AT ALL, but they can’t even find correlation AT ALL – so we skeptics can’t even argue that “Correlation doesn’t mean Causation.”

    BASED ON TEXAS, THERE IS NOTHING TO THIS QUAKES FROM FRACKING ALARMISM.

    Whatever is causing the little bitty quakes in Nuevo León, it sure as hell isn’t fracking.

    I mean, this is a WILD CLAIM WITH NO SUBSTANCE AT ALL, pulled out of someone’s butt. They just point at something the don’t like and see some phenomenon and then they mentally tie them together in their minds WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER. Just point at something “evil” and then, “CLICK!” something goes off in their brains.

    So, do I now know anything about fracking? Yes. The evidence of the fracking zone in South Texas argues persuasively that fracking does not cause quakes.

  81. Assuming that, for this discussion, we are discussing earthquakes who’s energy source is/was tectonic plate movement and the issue is “what’s worse? Many small quakes or one, or a few, major ones?”

    From http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/earthq3/safaultgip.html:

    ‘The sections [of the San Andreas fault] that produce great earthquakes remain “locked” and quiet over a hundred or more years while strain builds up; then, in great lurches, the strain is released, producing great earthquakes. Other stretches of the fault, however, apparently accommodate movement more by constant creep than by sudden offsets that generate great earthquakes. In historical times, these creeping sections have not generated earthquakes of the magnitude seen on the “locked” sections.’

    QED: you are safer, happier, and can buy reasonably-priced earthquake insurance if suffering many small quakes rather than than one BIG ONE.

    I hope that this will dismiss from consideration this July 5, 2014 at 6:41 am
    comment from “chuck”: “There is no real evidence to support this assertion [that Small earthquakes reduce accumulated energy and reduce the chances of damaging quake(s)]”

    Goggling “san andreas fault locked creeping” should provide move insight on this topic.

  82. Assuming that, for this discussion, we are discussing earthquakes who’s energy source is/was tectonic plate movement and the issue is “what’s worse? Many small quakes or one, or a few, major ones?”

    From http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/earthq3/safaultgip.html:

    ‘The sections [of the San Andreas fault] that produce great earthquakes remain “locked” and quiet over a hundred or more years while strain builds up; then, in great lurches, the strain is released, producing great earthquakes. Other stretches of the fault, however, apparently accommodate movement more by constant creep than by sudden offsets that generate great earthquakes. In historical times, these creeping sections have not generated earthquakes of the magnitude seen on the “locked” sections.’

    QED: you are safer, happier, and can buy reasonably-priced earthquake insurance if suffering many small quakes rather than than one BIG ONE.

    I hope that this will dismiss from consideration the July 5, 2014 at 6:41 am
    comment from “chuck”: “There is no real evidence to support this assertion [that Small earthquakes reduce accumulated energy and reduce the chances of damaging quake(s)]”

    Googling “san andreas fault locked creeping” should provide move insight on this topic.

  83. Non Nomen says:
    July 6, 2014 at 3:00 am

    nickreality65 says:
    July 5, 2014 at 6:54 am

    The only reason O&G companies reinject the waste water is because treatment is more expensive. There are lots of industry wastewater companies who could easily (though not cheaply) treat that water to good as new (wonderful property of water) on or off-site, but remote locations, transportation restrictions and costs are relatively too high. (I observed the first fracing operation of my career in 1966 or 67.)
    ______________________________

    “You made a good point here saying “costs are relatively too high.”

    I suppose we all agree that fresh water is essential for humans, animals and agriculture of all kind. I am thinking about a certain quota of wastewater to be treated to meet drinking water standard and being fed into the freshwater systems. Thus, a company might centralize processing and deliver fresh water at certain transfer points and reinject wastewater from remote areas back into the ground somewhere in the wilderness. And I can well think about water being treated just to meet the standard of agricultural needs.”
    ___________________________
    Again, a high percentage of water extracted from hydrocarbon- bearing formations is salt water, typically several times saltier than ocean water. Bakken formation water is about the same salinity as the Dead Sea.
    Treat that.

    • Yes, seawater is ~3% salt; produced water in Oklahoma is up to 17% salt. See the USGS database on produced waters, online, for exact numbers. They samples hundreds of O & G wells in OK.

  84. oops- bad formatting on post immediately prior

    [Corrected? What you intended to be quoted is not clear. .mod]

  85. “Darren Potter says: July 5, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    “ATheoK says: “In spite of alarmist claims, there is zero evidence linking that earthquake to a wells of any kind.”

    Start with old news – “The risk of setting off earthquakes by injecting fluid underground has been known since at least the 1960s, when injection at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal near Denver was suspended after a quake estimated at magnitude 4.8 or greater struck nearby—the largest tied to wastewater disposal until the one near Prague, Okla.”

    As of recently, “Oklahoma has had nearly double the number of earthquakes as California” and “Previously, the state averaged about one quake per year, but that has increased to at least one a day”. That would be increase of over 360 times.”

    Nice claims. Claims are not proof they are assumptions. You also need to check the USGS earthquake maps. Oklahoma does not have more quakes than California.

    You’ll also note that the faults in Oklahoma are known for frequent small quakes; which are too small to damage housing. 5.6 quakes are not ‘small’ harmless quakes; in an area that doesn’t build to earthquake code they can crack masonry. Not a surprise!

    Media alarmisms do not make any earthquake proof that nearby fluid injection caused it! Show definitive proof!

    “ATheoK says”: Coincidence is not correlation, correlation is not causation!”

    Bolded for your easier reading, you must’ve missed the point.

    “True, but ignoring possible linkage isn’t smart either.”

    Possible? Define the linkage, exactly. Otherwise, possible is just a caveat used to falsely cry wolf.

    “Faulkner county, Arkansas – “Days after the state’s oil and gas commission issue an emergency suspension on two injection wells, the number of reported earthquakes drops”

    No date of occurrence, just a claim. A claim that is not factually defined in the so called research about that earthquake swarm.

    Please note that the ‘research’ does the alarmist process of jumping from coincidence to correlation to it must be causation.

    With no proof offered, this research claim follows the typical alarmist “it is the only explanation I can think of” justification. No test parameters, no investigation of causes, no determination whatsoever, just a researcher’s omniscient judgmental decision.

    The researcher even prefaces his alarmist claims with “The area has a long history of seismic activity including earthquake swarms in the early 1980’s and 2001, so the current earthquake-rate increase may simply reflect another peak in a natural cycle.”

    For amusement; check out the Faulkner poster highlighting the swarm across two years. Then follow it up with the previous study performed before fluid injection wells got vilified where a long history of earthquake swarms in Faulkner are identified. Oh yeah, the evil well fluid injections caused millions of earth movement ergs…

    “Youngstown, Ohio – “For instance, the first earthquake recorded in Youngstown occurred 13 days after pumping began, and the tremors ceased shortly after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources shut down the well in December 2011. In addition, dips in earthquake activity lined up with Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and other times when injection at the well was temporarily stopped.”

    October 20th is near what holiday? With only a few earthquakes in or near Youngstown, just how does one graph their occurrence; let alone define ‘peaks’ and ‘lulls’?

    Youngstown is not a historically active earthquake zone; but earthquakes in the area are not unknown. Quakes in this area have been previously attributed to continental rebound.

    Again we come back to that phrase “Coincidence is not correlation, correlation is not causation!” rest assured, the moment any researcher or group of researchers claim to be omniscient and that a coincidence must be causation, they’re not researchers nor scientists; they are fools and the foolish.

  86. as far as fracing being able to make a fracture propagate from the deeper shale zone to a water sand at a shallow depth it is impossible. the overburden at the deep formation causes a vertical fracture and as it would come higher up towards the water sand it would turn into a horizontal fracture due to the decreasing overburden pressure and this would happen way before the fracture propagated anywhere close to the water sand.

  87. From the Oklahoman (newsok.com) June 27: Glen Brown started poring over U.S. Geological Service earthquake data while he was on vacation in Florida six months ago.
    Brown, who is vice president of geology at Continental Resources Inc., said he discovered evidence that Oklahoma’s rising number of earthquakes isn’t as unprecedented as most people believe.
    Brown found a similar earthquake outbreak in the 1950s (around 1 large 5.5 quake – this swarm has had one 5.6 quake), when Oklahoma did not have equipment to properly measure seismic activity (OK today has many more seismographs that can detect much smaller quakes).
    He also said those quakes may have been related to activity around the world, noting a similar spike in massive earthquakes worldwide since 2002.
    Brown’s theory isn’t new to Austin Holland, a research seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey, who has been studying Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm. “I have heard similar arguments,” he said. “When I say unprecedented, I mean never observed before by humans in an intraplate setting world-wide. That doesn’t mean that in the geologic past sequences like this have not occurred.

  88. ATheoK says: “Possible? Define the linkage, exactly. Otherwise, possible is just a caveat used to falsely cry wolf.”

    Oklahoma goes from one earthquake per year to over 360 earthquakes a year with its significant increase in fracking and injection. Other areas of country which have done fracking and injection have experienced increased earthquake activity, when those areas have curtailed fracking and injection, earthquake activity has decreased. That is linkage.

    To ignore such linkage is akin to putting your fingers in your ears and yelling Nah, Nah.

  89. ATheoK says: Nice claims. Claims are not proof they are assumptions.

    Not claims. As reported by U.S. Geological Survey.
    “Between 1978 and 2008, Oklahoma experienced an average of just two quakes of 3.0 magnitude of greater. In 2014, as of Thursday, there have been about 207 such quakes recorded in the state, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.”

  90. “No test parameters, no investigation of causes, no determination whatsoever, just a researcher’s omniscient judgmental decision.”

    Utter non-sense on your “researcher’s omniscient judgmental decision”.

    Investigations have been done and are continuing. As pointed out before, tests have already been done. Stopping fracking / water injection resulted in reduction in earthquakes. Restarting fracking / water injection resulted in an increase in earthquakes.

    There are issues with such testing. Earthquakes can continue because stopping fracking / water injection in one area, does not stop effects from nearby areas still being fracked and injected with water. Companies who have been put on notice about their overt fracking / water injection when forced to stop, then allowed to restart, do not go back to same level of fracking / water injection, thus clouding up results of stop / restart testing.

    Oklahoma is not a knee-jerk greenie state, and he state has been cautious in its handling of fracking / water injection vs. frequency of earthquake matter. What you ignore is Oklahoma’s scientists know that part of Oklahoma’s life-blood stems from Oil and Gas production. They are going to be diligent in their work before issuing statements. Oklahoma’s scientists have not and did not jump on a anti- fracking / water injection bandwagon like CO2 alarmists did with GW bandwagon.

  91. ATheoK says: “Media alarmisms do not make any earthquake proof that nearby fluid injection caused it! Show definitive proof!”

    You don’t want evidence, as it is clear you completely ignore research, data, and testing as reported. What you want is Mother Nature to come forth and unequivocally state she did not have anything to do with Oklahoma’s Earthquakes; followed by god proclaiming all of Oklahoma’s earthquakes were caused by fracking / water injection. A not going to happen, being reasonable level-headed people know some of Oklahoma’s earthquake activity is normal and has nothing to do with fracking / water injection.

  92. ATheoK says: “You’ll also note that the faults in Oklahoma are known for frequent small quakes; which are too small to damage housing. ”

    Guess you never heard of stress fractures or metal fatigue?
    “California has recorded about 140 3.0-magnitude quakes or greater, compared to 207 in Oklahoma.” Those numerous 3.0-magnitude (or greater) earthquakes do housing damage.
    Once again, note more earthquakes in Oklahoma than California.

    ATheoK says: “5.6 quakes are not ‘small’ harmless quakes; in an area that doesn’t build to earthquake code they can crack masonry. Not a surprise!”

    Gee and why might that be. Cause Oklahoma hasn’t had a need to construct homes and buildings to earthquake codes, prior to 2011!

  93. Darren Potter says:
    July 5, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Steve from Rockwood says: “article in Science is being used to confirm that fracking causes earthquakes in the headlines of the media, when in fact it is injection wells. ”

    Does it really matter to those suffering costly property damage whether it is the fracking, the injection wells, or combination of both?

    Darren, what matters is the truth. It is known that injection wells can cause micro-seismic events. It is not really fair to call them earthquakes. It is also known that earthquakes in Oklahoma are a naturally occurring event. There is no evidence that either injection wells or fracking events trigger damage-causing earthquakes. So if I lived in Oklahoma I would want to know that damage-causing earthquakes are naturally occurring so that I could take precautions, such as reinforcing my chimney, rather than trying to ban fracking which has nothing to do with a magnitude 5.6 earthquake.

  94. Darren Potter says:
    July 6, 2014 at 11:39 am

    ATheoK says: “You’ll also note that the faults in Oklahoma are known for frequent small quakes; which are too small to damage housing. ”

    Guess you never heard of stress fractures or metal fatigue?
    “California has recorded about 140 3.0-magnitude quakes or greater, compared to 207 in Oklahoma.” Those numerous 3.0-magnitude (or greater) earthquakes do housing damage.
    Once again, note more earthquakes in Oklahoma than California.

    ATheoK says: “5.6 quakes are not ‘small’ harmless quakes; in an area that doesn’t build to earthquake code they can crack masonry. Not a surprise!”

    Gee and why might that be. Cause Oklahoma hasn’t had a need to construct homes and buildings to earthquake codes, prior to 2011!

    Darren, your facts are false. Link to the USGS web-site for a primer on earthquake history in Oklahoma. The only recent major earthquake was a magnitude 5.6 in 2011. Others of note:

    M 5.0 in 1918
    M 6.0 in 1929
    M 5.5 in 1952
    M 6.0 in 1953
    M 6.0 in 1956
    M 6.0 in 1959
    M 5.0 in 1961
    M 6.0 in 1968
    M 4.6 in 1969
    M 4.2 in 1995
    M 4.6 in 1997

    The summary ends in 1976 (the year the article was published) but it seems there were no 5.0 or greater magnitude earthquakes from 1969 until the one in 2011.

    Your point about Oklahoma not needing construction methods to earthquake codes is busted as the area has experienced five magnitude 6 or greater earthquakes since recording in the area began in the early 1900s.

    In 1952 there were a total of 7 earthquakes and aftershocks greater than magnitude 4.0. Thus far in 2014 there have also been 7 earthquakes greater than 4.0. Note that today earthquakes are automatically recorded by instrumentation. I’m not sure when this started in Oklahoma but unlikely in 1952.

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states/oklahoma/history.php

  95. Meet SASOL, a South African fracker, investing 21 Billion dollars into a mass industrial startup in Louisana, USA. Foreign investors, hmm.

    First link, Sasol’s website for this project.

    Second link, Mother Jones website article, and point of view.

    I don’t think it is such a wise idea to frack along fault or stress fractures and I don’t think that anyone here does either, think that it would be wise.

    Check out the greenhouse gas emissions in the Mother Jones article, wow.

    Welcome to Sasol’s Project Website

    http://www.sasollouisianaprojects.com/

    Sasol, an international integrated energy and chemical company, is a world leader in the commercial production of liquid fuels and chemicals from natural gas. From transportation fuels, paint and medical lasers to perfumes and detergents, Sasol’s products provide far-reaching benefits to people’s lives around the globe.

    …With plans to make significant investments in Southwest Louisiana, Sasol is proposing the construction of a world-scale ethane cracker and gas-to-liquids (GTL) facility at its Westlake site in Southwest Louisiana. This innovative complex will not only benefit our nation’s energy independence, but will also be a tremendous economic stimulus to the region………………………….

    A Massive Chemical Plant Is Poised to Wipe This Louisiana Town off the Map

    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/sasol-mossville-louisiana

    SASOL’s proposed facility may spell the end for a 224-year-old community founded by freed slaves.
    By Tim Murphy
    Thu Mar. 27, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
    …The project, spearheaded by the South African chemical giant SASOL, will cost as much as $21 billion, but stands to benefit from more than $2 billion in incentives (including $115 million in direct funding) from the cash-strapped state budget. It has the backing of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, considered a likely 2016 presidential candidate, who traveled to the outskirts of Lake Charles for the official announcement of the plan in 2012. The state thinks it’s an economic slam dunk. One study from Louisiana State University projected that it would have a total economic impact of $46.2 billion. It is the largest industrial project in the history of Louisiana. And after a community meeting on Tuesday, it’s one step closer to realization.

    But that massive plant will come with a steep environmental price. It will produce more greenhouse gases than any other facility in the state. And the project will almost certainly spell the end for the 224-year-old settlement of Mossville, a poor enclave that has been forced to play host to industrial facilities no one else wanted in their backyard.

    An analysis conducted by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in February determined that the new project “will result in significant net emissions increases” of greenhouse gases, promethium, sulfur oxide, nitric oxide, and carbon monoxide. By its calculations, the plant will spew out more than 10 million cubic tons of greenhouse gases per year. (By contrast, the Exxon-Mobil refinery outside Baton Rouge, a sprawling complex that’s 250 times the size of the New Orleans Superdome, emits 6.6 million tons.)…………………………………….

  96. “Darren Potter says: July 6, 2014 at 10:43 am

    “ATheoK says: “Possible? Define the linkage, exactly. Otherwise, possible is just a caveat used to falsely cry wolf.”

    Oklahoma goes from one earthquake per year to over 360 earthquakes a year with its significant increase in fracking and injection. Other areas of country which have done fracking and injection have experienced increased earthquake activity, when those areas have curtailed fracking and injection, earthquake activity has decreased. That is linkage…”

    Darren:
    You sure like to post a lot of nonsense and then claim it as science. Steve from Rockwood already proved most of your claims as false, which I believe leaves me just two.

    Oklahoma is known for earthquake swarms. Historical fact. I already posted links to the evidence in my previous comments above, direct from USGS; but I guess you don’t bother with the science research part.

    Oklahoma’s Meer fault is listed on the National seismic hazards map; quakes in Oklahoma are neither unusual nor uncommon. Getting listed on the national hazards map means there is significant history of quakes at the fault.

    The USGS search engine requires rectangle or circular searches. California is not easily searched without a lot of fiddling; so the search only includes about 75% of California but includes everything but the panhandle of Oklahoma.

    In 2011 Oklahoma had 63 earthquakes greater than 3.0
    In 2011 California had 92 earthquakes greater than 3.0
    In 2012 Oklahoma had 34 earthquakes greater than 3.0
    In 2012 California had 69 earthquakes greater than 3.0
    In 2013 Oklahoma had 98 earthquakes greater than 3.0
    In 2013 California had 109 earthquakes greater than 3.0

    If you switch to quakes greater than 2.0 California far outranks Oklahoma in sheer number of earthquakes.

    If you’d bother to actually read the various research papers all of the supposed correlations linking fluid injection sites to earthquakes are strictly judgmental and use that tired rationale of “it’s the only reason we can think of…”

    It is not research and it definitely is not science; nor is it a surprise that this so-called finding occurred during this particular anti-fossil fuels administration.

    There are thousands of wells without any local earthquakes.
    There are thousands of earthquakes without local fluid injection sites.
    The fact that a simple Venn diagram places earthquakes in proximity to fluid injection sites is not proof of anything except that some earthquakes occur near fluid injection sites.

  97. latecommer2014 says: Please review item number seven in this list of Earthquake Myths…

    http://www.consrv.ca.gov/index/earthquakes/Pages/qh_earthquakes_myths.aspx

    You and some others are changing horses mid-stream. The claim is that they ” reduce the severity of potential quakes.” – not prevent them.

    Is there any question that there has to be potential energy present in order for an earth quake to happen? Is there any question that releasing that potential in small steps is preferable to having it release all at once?

  98. About 40 years ago, they conducted experiments on a remote section of the San Andreas to try and use water injection to trigger small quakes. Lots of small quakes do no damage, but a single big one can do lots of damage. After about a decade they abandoned the experiment without managing to trigger any quakes.

  99. chuck says:
    Please review item number seven in this list of Earthquake Myths.

    Chuck – please note that item number seven on that list is a simple statement, provided with no supporting information or references. It carries the same weight as the statements made by those arguing differently.

    I would be quite interested in seeing actual supporting evidence for both sides of this particular debate.

  100. *headshaking* to the following comment:
    “Is there a reason that the study uses kilometers instead of miles”
    All the scientific world uses SI-units, that Americans still use an out-dated system is always making me shake my head. And that people populating scientific sites still don’t know that, is just sad…

  101. Yet no earthquakes in PA or Ohio?
    USGS ran an animation on Oklahoma. Of course, over time the little dots all bundle up and looks scary. Of course, their series starts in the last ten years and not before then. I flipped through other states and didn’t find the same animation.

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/region.php

    Animation Oklahoma:

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/ceus/products/OKeqanimation.php

    Major fracking ALL over Louisiana, nothing for earthquakes
    Major fracking in Arkansas, only a few earthquakes in tip within the New Madrid Fault area

    I think people are using an animation to scare people…bumper stickers are easier to read and so are cartoons.

Comments are closed.