More "Fracking" Nonsense About Earthquakes

Figure 1) Junk science journalism at its best. Wastewater injection wells hydraulic fracturing (AKA fracking) are not the same thing.

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…

Figure 2) Frohlich, 2012 found some correlation between wastewater injection wells and very minor induced seismicity.

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.

Location of Barnett Shale and area covered in accompanying map

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.

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jonathan frodsham
August 10, 2012 12:59 am

More BS from the Greens trying to stop the use of gas as it is cheap and clean, they just want more windmills. Fracking causing earthquakes complete and utter rubbish.

Thomas Moore
August 10, 2012 1:26 am

I’m confused. Doesn’t the abstract say “This suggests injection-triggered earthquakes are more common than is generally recognized”, implying earthquakes are triggered by injection (i.e. fracking?)

Thomas Moore
August 10, 2012 1:29 am

I just re-read the article you linked and the comment you posted:
“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.”
It’s a reasonable assumption that the article got that from the abstract of the paper:
“This suggests injection-triggered earthquakes are more common than is generally recognized””

John Silver
August 10, 2012 1:44 am

“Are the science journalists ignorant of science? Or are they intentionally misleading the public?”
They are intentionally misleading the public.
Why do you have to ask?

August 10, 2012 1:59 am

Sometimes unexpected things do happen.
It was not exactly fracking, but rather a geothermic drilling.
(unfortunately, in German).

August 10, 2012 1:59 am

Its just our good luck that 4 earthquakes at 1.5 magnitude is not the same as 1 earthquake at 6 magnitude, If fracking helps tectonic plates make lots of small adjustments for internal stresses rather than one large one thenso much the better, werent they trying to do exactly this with the San Andreas fault over the last 30 years or so

August 10, 2012 2:04 am

When it comes to earthquates, I think it is critical to separate the fracking operation from the fluid disposal operation. My opinion is that the fracking is not and cannot be the source of earthquakes. But I believe there is ample evidence that high volume fluid disposal in deep wells can be the source of induced seismicity.
See my comment from March 12 where I discuss the Denver Rocky Mountain Arsenal #3 well and its almost conclusive connection to a quake series in north Denver from 1965-1968.

Google “Rocky mountain arsenal injection well” for a list of documents that investigate a series of Earthquakes that Denver experienced from 1964 to 1968. USGS Earthquake records indicate they were shallow (about 5 km). The Rocky Mountain Arsenal had a 12,074′ well to dispose of waste water into the deep Denver strata. In 18 months from 1965 to 1967 they disposed of 165,000,000 gallons. Because of the earthquake activity, they sealed the well.
Where I think the story gets most interesting is that about 6 months, 11 months, and 18 months AFTER the well was sealed, Denver experienced its three biggest quakes: Magnitude 5.1, 5.3 and 5.5. These were shallow (5 km) and within a few miles of the well. The activity then declined. (This can be verified on the USGS Earthquake Archive). In 1968 the well was briefly reopened and some liquids were pumped out to [reduce] formation pressure.

I point out a couple of phrases from Frohlich
“I didn’t find any higher risks from disposal of hydraulic fracturing fluids than was thought before” – Since there are people who believe high volume disposal can cause quakes, Frohlich’s comment is quite ambiguous. What was thought before?
All the wells nearest to the eight earthquake groups reported high injection rates (maximum monthly injection rates exceeding 150,000 barrels of water).
150,000 bbl/mo = 6,600,000 gal/mo. Denver was about 9,000,000 gal / mo for 18 months.
Hypothesis: It is not necessarily the max rate but the volume, at least in part.
How long have these frack recovery fluid disposal wells been active? Injection into formations near faults might be a fault trigger. But is that the only mechanism?
That the biggest Denver quakes occured months AFTER the injection stopped is I think a key to understanding another mechanism. Thermal contraction and expansion might play a part as well as pore pressure changes. A large volume of cool water during disposal can contract the formation causing minor quakes from settling. After the well is abandoned and sealed, Geothermal gradient heating will slowly expand the rock, but the stresses will be larger as it fights the accomidation during the prior settling. Larger stresses = larger quakes some time after the disposal well is sealed. So check quakes against cumulative volume as well as rates of fluid.

Brian Johnson uk
August 10, 2012 2:23 am

“Might’, ‘maybe’, ‘perhaps’, ‘possibly’, I really think adverbials of probability should be banned from all documents relating to climate change/disruption/warming/earthquakes from any media publication/TV documentary.

August 10, 2012 2:25 am

WTF? This entire study was done using the latest system of seismometers put in place for just this type of reason. The science sure seems pretty good and he notes that these tremors do not happen in some sites but do in others and offers explanations.
Podcast here: (the host is odd but the UT prof gives an excellent explanation of his work for the layman)

August 10, 2012 2:29 am

But reporting something is not much of a problem doesn’t sell newspapers.

August 10, 2012 2:30 am

Might just as well blame the vulcanism in NZ on fracking in Taranaki
along with the supposed earthquakes everywhere else it’s done in the.
Fracking has been done there for over 30 years. Nobody knew, until
recently. Now Mt Tongariro has had a huff and a puff and it’s neighbour
on the same tectonic plate boundary, White Island, has burst into life too
(off the east coast of the North Island, near Whakatane). I’ve been told
(unverified hearsay at present), an underwater volcano further to the north
east is also clearing its tubes.
I’m waiting for some ignoramus to make the connection. Ten, nine …
eight …
Those volcanoes from Mt Taranaki through Ruapehu, Ngaruhoe, Tongariro,
White Island and a chain of underwater cones up to Raoul Island in the
Kermadecs all follow the boundary between the western side of the Pacific
plate and the Australian plate, up through the Kermadec Trench to the biggies
in Indonesia (Tamboura, Krakatau et al). It could be exciting (!!! Big Bang!!!)
but maybe not. Meanwhile, life goes on …

Climate Refugee
August 10, 2012 2:32 am

I´m just waiting for the loonies to say ” We cannot explain this without CO2″

Bloke down the pub
August 10, 2012 2:48 am

The alarmists who try to scare everyone over the risks of earthquake totally ignore the fact that by inducing a minor quake you reduce the tensions that could have lead to a major one. People not used to quakes, like the majority of us in the UK, would not even realise what these small quakes were if we felt them at all.

John Marshall
August 10, 2012 2:50 am

Underground nuclear testing produced no serious earthquakes so fracking certainly would not.
Good post.

August 10, 2012 3:04 am

a new study “suggests”……“It might be” that an injection can….
And may I “suggest” that “it might be” that a rain dance could provoke rain? I mean, it might be?

Olaf Koenders
August 10, 2012 3:22 am

It must be the heatwave making those tree-huggers feel tremors.

Mike Hebb
August 10, 2012 3:39 am

Since earthquakes can be very damaging to life and property when the stresses are not relieved incrementally but build up go all at once then why isn’t fracking considered beneficial at relieving these stresses before the “big one” can happen? .. Maybe because there’s no connection.

Peter Miller
August 10, 2012 3:43 am

“My favorite hobby is debunking the junk science of the radical environmentalists.”
Mine too. The problem is they live in a world of their own; blind to reason, hard facts and inconvenient data, but inexplicably supported by a gullible public who believe everything green is good. A concept eagerly grasped by devious politicians seeking tax dollars and votes.
As a practicing geologist, I simply do not understand the concept of why fracking is supposed to be bad for the environment. I came to the self-evident conclusion that the greenies recognised they needed to find a new revenue generating scam to replace the global warming one, which has now passed its ‘sell by’ date.
Fracking is ideal to replace global warming, as the facts also can be twisted to produce scary predictions for a gullible public. And as we all know, scary unfounded predictions are a reliable way of generating tax dollars for ‘research’.

August 10, 2012 4:10 am

Anti-frackers always conflate fracking, which is a transient well treatment, with injection, which is ongoing. The analogy I use is the comparison between a hypodermic injection and an IV.
An ill-sited injection well might — might — cause a problem if it were injecting fluid into a potentially-active fault plane. It would not matter if the fluid injected were produced water, waste frac fluid, or mother’s milk.

Robert of Ottawa
August 10, 2012 4:14 am

But injecting compresse CO2 underground is simply wonderful.

Alan the Brit
August 10, 2012 4:27 am

Fracking radical environmentalists! They do get everywhere don’t they?
Earth tremors are occurring constantly throughout the UK, always have been always will. That’s the trouble with hyper-sensitive modern measuring equipment, it is so sensitive that the slightest hairline movement is picked up that wouldn’t have been in the past! Goes back to cracks in walls that my clients see for the first time, then they are most adamant that they are new & fresh & their house is falling down, especially when I tell them the cracks have been there for donkeys years & their 17th century pride & joy has been moving with the sub-soils for 200 years plus, & don’t live in very old houses if they don’t want to see cracks! Personally I blame Global Warming, why not, everything else is blamed on it 😉

August 10, 2012 4:32 am

DM: “Are the science journalists ignorant of science? Or are they intentionally misleading the public?”
I suggest that, as members of the scientifically illiterate public, journalists are ignorant of the boundaries (Popper’s problem) of science, confusing it with the validation of technology. With the investment in the technological Emperor’s new clothes, it is unlikely that the skeptical scientists’ cry will be heard. “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” He has spent his money on marketeering!

August 10, 2012 4:53 am

Coincidence? I promise, yes!
CONTEMPT FOR THE MEDIA, By Former Arizona State Senator Karen Johnson,
August 8, 2012,
Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” tells the story of two charlatans who persuade the emperor to let them weave beautiful new garments for him. In reality, the charlatans are weaving nothing. They are only pretending as they perpetrate a huge hoax on the emperor and his court. Anyone who could not see the lovely cloth, said the charlatans, was stupid. Not wishing to be thought stupid, the emperor and his court all persuade themselves that they see the clothes. They went along with what they were told by the charlatans. (

Mike Bromley the Kurd
August 10, 2012 5:05 am

The press will spout, and people will believe what they want. One of these beliefs is that fracturing (I abhor the unword “fracking”) causes earthquakes capable of damage. The energy budget is just not there. And even after a simple scientific explanation to that effect, people will still dismiss with the typical “well, that may be the case, but fracking is still bad”, akin to the “well, global warming may not be serious, but we should err to the cautious just in case”. This seems to be the method of the uninformed, or that of the uncritical thinker. Nothing seems to dissuade them from this agnosticism. The press seems to know this, and in their smug way, exploit it to the max. It’s how “documentaries” like Gasland can get a foothold…promoting bold-faced untruth as fact.

Mike M
August 10, 2012 5:54 am

Mike Hebb says: … why isn’t fracking considered beneficial at relieving these stresses …

Exactly. The whole concept needs to be thrown right back into their ugly lying faces. My response to charlatans who say ‘fracking triggers earthquakes’ is – IT WOULD BE A WONDERFUL ADVANTAGE IF IT ACTUALLY DID!

Don Bennett
August 10, 2012 6:01 am

The first earthquake I ever felt was a quake attributed to the Denver Arsenal disposal well back in the early 1980’s. There are a lot of things that go into waste water disposal but the main thing that must be understood is that they are very closely controlled by the various states oil and gas production regulators (or at least it is in Wyoming).

August 10, 2012 6:03 am

It has been my experience that a number of the “science journalists” do not have any science background beyond perhaps high school biology…

August 10, 2012 6:06 am

For 31 years my profession has been optimizing hydraulic fracturing. Yea, I was fracing when fracing was cool. I found it a bit awkward to tell casual contacts what I did for a living. Overtime I learned it was better to summarize as I help improve how fast the hydrocarbons come out of reservoirs.
Now to see the average activist and journalist discuss “Fracking” is in one part showing their ignorance/poor comprehension, and the other their obvious bias. Then in using what is to them are “facts” that proves their position, like inducing earthquakes or contamination of aquifers, they show motives besides wanting to know the truth. Blind they become. Correcting their blindness can be almost impossible. It takes patience.
In the course of waywardness they are hurting themselves and those around them.
As presented earlier, the most likely connection is with continuous injection disposal wells around areas with existing stress faults. Injection may provide lubrication or increase stress till failure, but the magnitude to date is negligible. But in a world with uncertainties who knows if we might see a Macondo-like earthquake by chance. There is much more to learn by empirical observation.

Gary Pearse
August 10, 2012 6:13 am

This is getting more like “whack a moley” or some rapidly mutating virus. You debunk their stuff and they jump into entirely new forms and areas. Newsflash: a)Fracking, temporarily increases pressure in the formation but the subsequent production of the oil/gas reduces the pressure even more. b) The Fracking is taking place mainly in areas where long time oil and gas production previously reduced the pressure. c) Major fault zones are not a feature of confined hydrocarbon reservoirs – they would have been conduits for the whole works to have leaked out eons ago – possibly like the Oil Sands of Canada, offshore Gulf of Mexico and California, and Venezuela,.
Robert of Ottawa says:
August 10, 2012 at 4:14 am
“But injecting compresse(d) CO2 underground is simply wonderful.”
The insidiousness of these indirect “carbon” is the problem, is that there is a huge public out there that sort of buys in to this kind of egregiously dishonest activist political science.

August 10, 2012 6:16 am

Interesting to note that the extreme fear of fracking is now causing countries such as South Africa to build coal plants. People believe fracking is more damaging than CO2. Talk about environmentalists sabotaging themselves….
Most disturbing is the use of “may” in science papers. Really? Isn’t may or possible the realm of science fiction? Any may or could happen, anything is possible, as “Kwik” noted. (I’m never quite sure if the “may” is the news media or the paper itself. One hopes it’s the media, though evidence is it’s not the media.) Only “probable” counts.

August 10, 2012 6:32 am

There are all sorts of “scary” stories out there. There was a big earthquake in Sichuan Province, China back in 2009. One American colleague was trying to tell me about the “secret” EM weapon and that agents had tested it on China and caused this particular earthquake. I explained to him the physics of EM and the amount of energy it would take to create an EM pulse big enough to create an earthquake, if indeed it could (like at least 1 nuclear power plants worth). I also pointed out that if anyone had some “secret” EM pulse weapon, that it would kill all the electronics within its range. I think I put that conspiracy to bed with that guy but who would know.
For some reason there are these people with a doomsday mentality and would like to imagine some evil people behind it. Then they see themselves as Saviors. That is how I look at Greens. Doomsday saviors. Maybe they read too many superman comics when they were young.

Pamela Gray
August 10, 2012 6:42 am

hmmm. Let’s talk about this one. If fracking causes an increase in smaller quakes which will only slip in the direction of least resistance, thus relieving tectonic stress, this is bad how???? Maybe what has been discovered is a way to prevent earthquakes that kill. A series of wells drilled along major distructive faults for the purpose of “fracking” them just might be the discovery of the century.

August 10, 2012 6:44 am

Mike Hebb :
August 10, 2012 at 3:39 am
In the sixties there was talk of drilling wells and setting off explosives to cause small earthquakes an so avoid the huge earthquakes. Maybe even small nukes.
Sanity prevailed. The underground nuclear testing did not set off more earthquakes or prevent earthquakes.

August 10, 2012 7:07 am

Stephen Rasey says:
August 10, 2012 at 2:04 am
… I believe there is ample evidence that high volume fluid disposal in deep wells can be the source of induced seismicity…
In the permitting process, Type II wells typically have a set of guidelines that they are required to follow. The most important parameter is the fracture gradient. Using data specific to the formation, maximum well head pressure is determined and the operation is not allowed to exceed that without permission from the cognizant authroity. (AOGC in Arkansas, other States probably have similar)
This pressure is going to be highly dependent on how fast or easily fluid moves into the formation. If the flow rate drops, the pressure builds, and the operation has to “throttle back” in order to stay within the limits of their permit.
That the biggest Denver quakes occured months AFTER the injection stopped is I think a key to understanding another mechanism. Thermal contraction and expansion might play a part as well as pore pressure changes.
Sounds reasonable… but another thing about Denver that the press seems to overlook, is the Rio Grande Rift.
Given enough time, you can kiss the Rockies good bye.

August 10, 2012 7:21 am

It is nonsense and it is also an attempt to shut down economical use of conventional energy.

August 10, 2012 7:22 am

Is the Assumption of Radial Environmental Carpetbaggers

August 10, 2012 7:25 am

“… It was not exactly fracking, but rather a geothermic drilling.
(unfortunately, in German).”
If they’d been drilling in English that wouldn’t have happened. 🙂

August 10, 2012 7:58 am

I’m on board with the AGW skeptic stuff, but I will likely never be on board with the “fracking is safe” camp. I cannot ever see how injecting toxins into the ground will ever be a good idea, and no one has adequately explained the flammable house water problem to me.
I am, until I see evidence to the contrary, ashamed that this position is being taken up by WUWT.

Reply to  Jason
August 10, 2012 9:18 am

Methane is commonly present in ground water. Hence the prevalence of places in the U.S. called “Burning Springs” – NY, WV and KY, IIRC. Those names all predated drilling, you know.

August 10, 2012 8:03 am

Fred @ 2:25 am
Thanks for the link Fred. Dr. Freulich explains fracturing and its aftermath and his research findings very clearly. I would that journalists would listen to such explanations.

August 10, 2012 8:12 am

For the confused, fracking pumps fluids into a well then removes them. Injection pumps fluids into a well for disposal, i.e. they stay in the well. Yes, fracking can use millions of gallons of fluid, but it comes back out.
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal problems are exactly the kind of problems that anti-fracking types hope for, but fail to find with fracking. If you pump billions, yes billions, of gallons of fluids per month into a faulted area, what are the chances that you’re lubing up a fault? Pretty good from the results, I’d say. On the other hand, drilling into a faulted area consisting of tuft, and then setting off nuclear explosions demonstrably doesn’t cause tremmors as a side effect – the ground shakes from the blast, but then stops.
Geothermal quakes are a direct result of asking for trouble. You inject fluids into an area with known faulting, high temperatures, and then wonder that something happens? WUWT?

August 10, 2012 8:20 am

David Middleton – can you provide a few paragraphs to explain how and why waste water injection and fracking are unrelated so other silent but similarly confused people can understand this? To be honest I read the article and came away thinking you were FOC but like most I’m not well versed in your field.

August 10, 2012 8:25 am

“May be”, “suggests”
Sounds like enough wiggle room to drive an aircraft carrier through.

Tom Stone
August 10, 2012 8:38 am

Words like “Maybe” and “Possibly” and common in the AGW community. When it comes to paying taxes for wind subsidies or higher utility bills I would not have the option of “Maybe” or “Possibly” paying them, if they are on my bill.

August 10, 2012 8:50 am

“Radial Environmental Carpetbaggers” Well said.
“…[C]arpetbagger was a pejorative term Southerners gave to Northerners (also referred to as Yankees) who moved to the South during the Reconstruction era, between 1865 and 1877.
The term referred to the observation that these newcomers tended to carry “carpet bags,” a common form of luggage at the time (sturdy and made from used carpet). It was used as a derogatory term, suggesting opportunism and exploitation by the outsiders. Together with Republicans[!] they are said to have politically manipulated and controlled former Confederate states for varying periods for their own financial and power gains. In sum, carpetbaggers were seen as insidious Northern outsiders with questionable objectives meddling in local politics, buying up plantations at fire-sale prices and taking advantage of Southerners.”

August 10, 2012 8:56 am

Recently I cycled past a house in a town in the Catskills NY that was flying a series of lawn placards…”No Fracking. Gov. Cuomo, we will remember on election day;” “No Nuclear Power-shut Indian Point;” “Stop our Reliance on Foreign Oil;” “There is NO Clean Coal;” “In-River Hydro kills our rivers;” “Stop Offshore Drilling, prevent the next Deepwater Horizon:”
I presume that there are some evils to be found in wax candles as well.
I guess we will all just have to eat more carrots…then again that would require that we add more fertilizer to the soil, and I suspect that there are placards against that too.
What do these people want?

Alan the Brit
August 10, 2012 9:03 am

Jason says:
August 10, 2012 at 7:58 am
I’m on board with the AGW skeptic stuff, but I will likely never be on board with the “fracking is safe” camp. I cannot ever see how injecting toxins into the ground will ever be a good idea, and no one has adequately explained the flammable house water problem to me.
I am, until I see evidence to the contrary, ashamed that this position is being taken up by WUWT.
My dear fellow, I think you’ll find that this gas in water mischief has been debunked many times over. As I understand it, there were no active fracking operations going on in the area at the time of the video, & it was demonstrated that the gas was already in the water before operations began. Fracking is safe it’s been operating for over 30 years without major incidents occurring. Listen to the geologists & the men & women working in the industry, & learn to not always believe that Big Oil/Gas is out to rule the world & make everybody poor, quite the opposite in reality!

August 10, 2012 9:21 am

Sounds like “Project Mainstrike”. Zorin Industries evil plan to destroy California by fracking. If you see this fellow report him to the EPA at once:

August 10, 2012 9:25 am

Studies have been done showing that fracking is safe.

Steve Oregon
August 10, 2012 9:28 am

“a new study suggests”
I have conducted my own study that suggests new studies which suggest things are nothing but useless suggestions.
Furthermore, I suggest that the parade of studies and suggestions relating to climate may be contributing to more to global warming than CO2 emissions.
I suggest AGW arena takes a time out from making suggestions.

Darren Potter
August 10, 2012 9:30 am

Climate Refugee: ”We cannot explain this without CO2″
The following info was obtained via compilation of “mailed” Heatland Institute internal memos …
“Our Big Oil” pals have recently** been secretly extracting CO2 from Oil as part of manufacturing of gasoline, diesel, etc. and “saturating fracking fluids with the CO2” to hide said extracted CO2 from “E.P.A. and Greenies”. Quote: “Our contact at WUWT is recommending our Big Oil partners’ CO2 saturating be done randomly through out the U.S., so as to further confound any AGW activists who might suspect nefarious activity.” H.I.’s confidential memos also suggested varying levels*** of CO2 saturation to “befuddle those who become suspicious” and attempt “linkage to Tremors”.
** Explaining why past fracking did not cause earthquakes. Past fracking fluids lacked CO2. Whereas fracking fluid, now saturated with CO2, and once injected into shale – violently react like a shook-up can of Diet soda with Mentos.
*** Based on S. Mcintyre’s ‘slight of hand’ with GW temps. to “bury increase” in the noise.

August 10, 2012 9:31 am

This is plain alarmism and simply false. Even the EPA, reluctantly, concluded that an earthquake was likely impossible via fracking. There have been dozens of reports of localized, extremely small, tremors. Not a single report of damage. Too small, too shallow (narrow radiation), and buffered by the fracking compound itself which acts like a shock absorber.

Darren Potter
August 10, 2012 9:48 am

Brodirt says: “What do these people want?”
Mr. Fusion.
There is nothing that will satisfy these tree-huggers. When they demanded Wind Power, they whined about bird strikes. When wind turbine companies resolved the bird strikes, the Greenies protested with not in our backyard. When they demanded Solar Power, they said no because of desert tortoises. Followed by a No to Solar Power because of Hazardous Materials.

August 10, 2012 9:52 am

Remember that it is conventional wisdom – and true – that excessive water is toxic, ranging from hyponatremia to drowning, from excessive dilution of blood electrolytes to respiratory impairment by immersion.

Dave Worley
August 10, 2012 10:10 am

Once again, deception is the rule.
They studied injection wells and blame hydraulic fracturing. They are two different processes, but since the public cannot discern, it will sell more papers.
There is also much more money to be extorted from the production side of oil & gas (than from waste disposal) if you can hold them hostage using sensational media accounts.
If only the public understood that so long as radical environmentalists succeed, it is we, the public, being held hostage whenever we purchase an energy product. The cost of fighting off these radicals is paid by the end user.

August 10, 2012 10:19 am

I live in the heart of oil well country in Alberta (NOT oil sands). Back in the ’60’s (before fracking) we moved from the farm into a small town and my mother complained about the town water bubbling and gushing when she first turned on the faucet. We told her it was gas bubbles in the water; she thought we were all wet. So she lit a match and turned on the tap — burned the curtains over the sink. End of argument.
In the same town a friend of mine decided to open a private water well that had been capped several years before – he lit the gas coming out and it burned for 3 days before he could set up a pump.

August 10, 2012 10:24 am

David Middleton says
“The basic procedure is to pump a slurry of water and sand into the formation to expand natural fractures… Hence, hydraulic fracturing.” David you seem, refreshingly, to have done some research on the subject, but you have gotten this one point wrong. Fracturing does not attempt to expand natural fractures, but to create new ones through hydraulic pressure. As part of the process, generally a propant is pumped in with the frac fluid. Were it not the fracture would immediately close up. The propant traditionally used is the sand as you noted.
The frac fluid is produced back so that the oil or gas may enter the fracture and then it is disposed of in an injection well. The author cites injection wells which inject 150,000 barrels per month. At that rate, the frac fluid would be disposed of in a few hours at most. While the injection of produced brine water would go on day to day for years and even decades. The responsibility of injected frac fluid for any seismic activity that might result would be non existent.

August 10, 2012 10:51 am

Are the science journalists ignorant of science? Or are they intentionally misleading the public?
Yes, they are intentionally misleading the public, for their own good, just like James Hansen.
Fear sells.

August 10, 2012 10:54 am

From what I understand, the fracture itself does not produce earthquakes as defined by the USGS, but it does create seismic signals which can be detected on the surface. As several commenters have discovered, there is confusion with fracing, and forcing waste water into disposal wells.
I blogged on The Real Risks of Fracking in June of this year. Most of my information came from a paper presented to the Society of Petroleum Engineers conference this past February, Hydraulic Fracturing 101: What Every Representative, Environmentalist, Regulator, Reporter, Investor, University Researcher, Neighbor and Engineer Should Know About Estimating Frac Risk and Improving Frac Performance in Unconventional Gas and Oil Wells.
One of the more famous earth quake events dealing with fracking was a series of quakes in Arkansas. These quakes were subsequently discovered to be caused by waste water injection wells in an area close to a previously unknown fault. The waste water operations were ordered stopped. However, people in that part of the country still think it was the fracking that caused the quakes.

August 10, 2012 11:07 am

David Middleton, agreed.
“I have fracked. I have fracked more than once. God help me, I liked it.”

August 10, 2012 11:11 am

Fracturing treatments change the effective wellbore radius/diameter from a simple 5 to 12 inch round surface area to an effective/comparable 30 foot diameter or more surface area, depending on the size of the treatment.
Fracturing for hydrocarbons allows more area for the hydrocarbons to flow out of the formation rock. The result is often enhance production rate and volume over time.
For disposal wells the fracturing process is reverse to allow more fluid injection over time. The injection is typically continuous and can be a substantial volume over time.
Fracturing for hydrocarbons doe not cause earthquakes. But flukes can happen. But odds would be like winning the lottery. And the seismicity would be very small.
Very few wells are drilled as disposal/injection wells. If such wells induce earthquakes they are infrequent and small in magnitude. But then there are those that negatively over hype CO2 increase too.

August 10, 2012 11:17 am

Pamela Gray says:
August 10, 2012 at 6:42 am
hmmm. Let’s talk about this one. If fracking causes an increase in smaller quakes which will only slip in the direction of least resistance, thus relieving tectonic stress, this is bad how???? Maybe what has been discovered is a way to prevent earthquakes that kill. A series of wells drilled along major distructive faults for the purpose of “fracking” them just might be the discovery of the century.

The “bad” is that stress along a fault is never uniformly distributed. There are generally “locked sections” and sections that are mobile. The San Andreas Fault offers good examples of both. The fear would be that relieving stress in one area would actually increase it elsewhere along the fault, or to sympathetically trigger the release of stress in a locked zone in a “palpable” way. The vast majority of seismic activity isn’t “palpable” anyway (see data at, so asserting that only very small movements were found is not telling anyone anything new, unexpected or special.
Seeing motion where no one knew there would be motion is an entirely different bucket of worms. That means an entirely unknown fault has been triggered. There are a lot of these around and they can be really unpleasant. The Northridge ‘quake for example was on a previously unknown “blind thrust fault,” a hidden fault where the upper limb moves over the lower at more or less right angle to the fault strike – e.g. the strike is nortth-south, the western side moves (thrusts) eastward above the eastern side. “Blind” simply means there is no surface indications of the fault’s existence. Another characteristic of a thrust fault is that it causes compression – increases stress. The huge earthquake in Japan was a similar motion with the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate (oddly Japan is on the western end of the North American Plate) moved toward each other with Japan riding up over the Pacific Plate. The vertical displacement was as much as 10 meters while the horizontal displacement was as much as 50 meters.
Another “bad” is that the stored energy in locked zones can be megatonnes greater than the energy stored unlocked areas. If you can’t predict what the actual energy release is going to be, then do you really want to assume the liability for accidentally triggering a major ‘quake? I can guarantee that the idea has been looked at for decades with no neat solutions. Tinkering might well be worse than not and no way to really tell.

August 10, 2012 11:21 am

Those frightened at the prospect of fracking never consider a cost/benefit analysis. Except in one or two locations [where there is minimal to no fracking], any earthquakes are minor temblors that cause no damage. And as Pamela Gray notes, fracking may well relieve pressure, thereby avoiding larger quakes.
So back to cost/benefit: fracking contributes enormously to national, state, and local wealth. Most folks with an IRA account are making money from it, whether they are aware of it or not. So the benefits of the immense added wealth produced by fracking clearly trump the economic Luddites who are trying to stop energy production.
Everyone considers the cost/benefit of their actions every day. Get in your car, and you might be killed. But you drive anyway. You fly in airliners, take trains, ride motorcycles, drink alcohol, white water raft, surf, gamble, smoke, use fossil fuels produced by dangerous offshore rigs, and so on. You do not play Russian roulette, race your car down the highway at 110 MPH, or rob liquor stores at gunpoint.
Everyone considers the cost/benefit of their actions. Fracking is safe, effective, and produces much wealth. The country needs the energy because without it, costs would be that much higher. So to those wild-eyed scaremongers going to ridiculous extremes over the Precautionary Principle, I say: stay indoors! Do not go outside for anything. You might get hit by a meteorite.

August 10, 2012 11:33 am

David, thank you very much for the pointers. If nothing else, they starkly contrast with what purports to be scientific inquiry in the area of “Climate Science.” Of course, they are more than that, they clearly show to the level of detail that O&G companies go to understand what’s going on thousands of feet below the surface.
Actually, I’d hate to have to depend on the quality of the work of some of the Warmistas, were I using work of that quality to try to find oil. I suspect dowsing would be more productive.

August 10, 2012 11:47 am

“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.”
“May be more common” like nobody noticed… big deal.

John F. Hultquist
August 10, 2012 11:47 am

Alan the Brit says:
August 10, 2012 at 9:03 am
Jason says:
August 10, 2012 at 7:58 am

I grew up in western Pennsylvania. Go to ‘Clarion County, PA’ in Google Earth if you want to see the region. This is oil, gas, and coal country. The early practices were not regulated and wells drilled many years prior to the 1950s had been abandoned. Water and gas still came to the surface. One bubbling pool was about 2 Smoots across and a fallen tree lay at its edge. We would sit on the log and from a book of matches toss a lighted one into the center of the cauldron. Each time, a tiny explosion would burst as the gas ignited. This passed as entertainment before the digital age. Actually, we were hunting white tailed deer.
The natural oil, gas, and coal surface occurrences were known about. My Great-aunt Lizzy’s house had gas globes in the rooms from shallow gas piped in from her property. Her water came from the same land but I don’t remember the water, but it must not have been special. The lighting was special because we lived in town and had electric lights and a newly installed gas heater in the living room. Prior to that my family used local coal as a source of heat.
Book of matches:

August 10, 2012 11:54 am

John Hultquist,
Thanks. I shall incorporate Smoots in conjunction with my use of Oluympic swimming pools.☺

August 10, 2012 12:03 pm

In addition to fracking, the related technique of horizontal drilling has produced a wealth of new fossil fuel production.
Crank out that harmless CO2, the biosphere needs it!

Richard G
August 10, 2012 1:02 pm

Doug Huffman says:
August 10, 2012 at 8:50 am
“…[C]arpetbagger was a pejorative term Southerners gave to Northerners (also referred to as Yankees) who moved to the South during the Reconstruction era, between 1865 and 1877.”…
FYI, the term “Yankee” does not appear in the Southern lexicon. See “Damned Yankee”.

August 10, 2012 3:06 pm

“Are the science journalists ignorant of science? Or are they intentionally misleading the public?”
Both and I would add some journalists are simply lazy.
Fareed Zakarias plagiarized, CNN and Time have suspended him.
Regarding external forces causing earthquakes I wonder if the environmentalists were upset when the National Football League cause an earthquake…
“It’s all real,” said John Vidale, Director of Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. “People were shaking the stands, the stands were shaking the ground and it [was] going to the instruments.”

Pamela Gray
August 10, 2012 3:53 pm

Duster, thanks so much for an informative response.

August 10, 2012 4:49 pm

@GeoLurking 7:07am
I don’t think the Rio Grande Rift had anything to do with the 1967-69 Denver seismic activity.
For one thing, the Rift passes 100+ miles west of denver with a couple mountain ranges between them. The Denver Basin has existed since at least the late Paleozoic. Major faults of Laramide age are quite close.
Back in the late 1970’s the link between the Aresenal injection and the Denver quakes was strong, but circumstantial; it could have been just a coincidence. Now 44 years later, without a recurance of the quake swarm in Denver, the chances of coincidence are dropping quickly. I think the evidence that the Arsenal well and the Mag 5+ quakes are a bullseye in X,Y,Z, and T.
Colorado Earthquake and Fault Map (pdf)
Colorado Geology Photojournal with a good summary of Geologic History.

August 10, 2012 5:46 pm

What is humorous about this is that fracking is an old technology. The reason fracking got noticed is because journalists love to spice up their stories with industrial jargon, and fracking sounds cool. The technology was horizontal drilling. The trick came about when they learned to frack in multiple completion zones, which is quite a trick for a mile long horizontal bore. But fracking had been around for quite a while. Anyhow, the journalists summed it all up with a cool sounding term: fracking.

August 10, 2012 5:48 pm

And the greens want to inject CO2 down wells? Well, that is actually happening anyway for enhanced recovery of oil, but it is humorous.

August 10, 2012 11:02 pm

I thought this site was about climate science, but it turns out to be about defending the fossil fuel industry, regardless of the actual topic.
My surprise is entirely sarcastic.

August 10, 2012 11:07 pm

Great post! I have always wondered why they do not tell the depth of quakes when they report those ’caused by’ fracking.
I know the real reason is simple, it would show the fluids COULD NOT have been the cause. Unless, slightly possible, that the fluids caused a slip which then triggered a domino effect.
Fracking is at a different depth in almost all cases than any earth quakes I am aware of.

August 11, 2012 12:43 am

Stephen Rasey says:
August 10, 2012 at 4:49 pm
@GeoLurking 7:07am

I don’t think the Rio Grande Rift had anything to do with the 1967-69 Denver seismic activity.
For one thing, the Rift passes 100+ miles west of denver with a couple mountain ranges between them. The Denver Basin has existed since at least the late Paleozoic. Major faults of Laramide age are quite close.

The Rio Grande Rift is a propagating structure. It also falls in the category of a narrow rift, unlike Basin and Range which is a wide rift.
Generally, rift systems will have one or more boundary faults that somewhat parallel the rift axis. Since it it a growing structure, I would not rule out a fault system 100 miles away as being eventually incorporated into it’s spreading. The Ethiopian rift valley has border faults anywhere from 25 to 125 km from the central axis. (however it is a more “mature” system) The failed New Madrid rift has the Commerce fault off to the west at about 20 to 30 km from the axis, and in some texts it is believed to be the western boundary fault for that system. (yeah, I don’t have the text reference handy, I know, I know.) Though it is on a near perfect alignment with the faulting at Guy Arkansas, I don’t think it’s related.
AOGC shut down Type II wells in that area due to what they think is causing the Guy swarm. The brunt of those quakes were much deeper than the sealed depth of those wells, so the only thing I can figure is that the additional fluid may have changed the pore pressure at depth and re-activated an old fault structure or changed the fracture gradient (only thing that makes sense to me)

August 11, 2012 4:15 am

Southerons are first civil, choosing Gemeinschaft over modern and Northern Gesellschaft (F. Töennies, 1887. Transl. 2001, Community and Civil Society, Harris ed.). There are many epithets that, while appropriate in private conversation, a gentleman avoids in public.

August 11, 2012 6:36 am

Jason says:
August 10, 2012 at 7:58 am
“I’m on board with the AGW skeptic stuff, but I will likely never be on board with the “fracking is safe” camp. I cannot ever see how injecting toxins into the ground will ever be a good idea, and no one has adequately explained the flammable house water problem to me.
I am, until I see evidence to the contrary, ashamed that this position is being taken up by WUWT.”
Relax old son.
My son’s kindergarten use disinfectant to clean the floors, toilets and kitchens and anti-bacterial hand wash to clean the kids hands before eating, they are toxins (designed to kill micro-organisms); should the kindergarten and the authorities be ashamed of their position? They are after all, shamelessly exposing innocent children to toxins every single day.
If you ever sprayed fly spray in your house, you were injecting toxins into the very air you breath but you wouldn’t have been ashamed that you put yourself and any visitors at risk of exposure to what is more or less nerve gas would you?
Hydraulic Stimulation involves injecting mostly water into a formation to above the rock’s fracture pressure causing a fracture to open and propagate into the formation, increasing the surface area available for hydrocarbon migration into a well. Proppant (sand) keeps those fractures open once the pressure is relieved and the additives you heard activists wringing their hands over in gassland consitute 0.5 – 2% of the fluid by concentration.
Additives are included to reduce the friction of the fluid while flowing (requiring less energy to pump the fluid – less CO2 emissions then), inhibit corrosion, prevent micro-organisms fouling the fractures that are created and to reduce the impact of drilling fluid invasion of the formation.
The frac fluid then flows back out of the well once the stimulation is complete and is either disposed of down an injection well or re-used (which makes more sense to me), if it did not, how would the oil or gas in the target formation flow into the well to be produced?
Why be ashamed or unneccessarily frightened of such a benign industrial process? Be ashamed of leaving toxic anti-bacterial hand wash lying around your house unsupervised.
The flammable house water problem is easy to explain; it’s gas migrating into aquifers. In the same way that oil seeps out of the sea floor into the gulf of mexico, it’s all perfectly natural and been documented since long before fracturing was a possible scapegoat.

Gary Pearse
August 11, 2012 7:20 am

Fraccing, fracking, hydraulic fracturing. This is not as recent as many believe. Maybe the term “Fracking” is of recent coinage and this is limiting search. The technique was first tried in 1947 … 65 years ago. Surely we would have had a calamity by now if this was a threat. Wiki- hydraulic fracturing:
“The first use of hydraulic fracturing was in 1947 but the modern fracking technique that made the extraction of shale gas economical was first used in 1997 in the Barnett Shale in Texas.[1][2][3] The energy from the injection of a highly pressurized fracking fluid creates new channels in the rock, which can increase the extraction rates and ultimate recovery of hydrocarbons.”
I think the outcry is more over the fact that oil and gas haven’t peaked after all and “this has gotta be stopped!” We owe a lot to the much maligned “Big Oil” for our prosperity and wellbeing. And for those who think that this sector is being subsidized – that is a lot of hooey.
“…for a total US average fuel tax of 49.5 cents per gallon for gas (13.07 ¢/L) and 54.6 cents per gallon for diesel”
“current fuel tax in Australia is A$0.7188 per litre for petrol (over over $3.00/gallon)
“Fuel taxes in Canada can vary greatly between locales. On average, about one-third of the total price of gas at the pump is tax. ”
“UK duty rate for the road fuels unleaded petrol, diesel, biodiesel and bioethanol is GB£0.5795 per litre (£2.63 per imperial gallon or £2.19 per U.S. gallon)[~$3.00/gal]
On top of this, the oil companies pay corporate taxes, their employees pay income taxes, gasoline stations pay business taxes, income taxes and their employees pay income taxes. I had a friend with a two pump country gas station and auto repair shop with two mechanics. He showed me how his business made $500/day for the governments and a lot less than that for him – and that was 30 years ago! Listen, the only reason the greenies haven’t been able to shut down “Big Oil” is because the actual industry is more “Bigger Government” in terms of profitability. The much ballyhooed “subsidy” is essentially legitimate tax deductions associated with wasting assets – declining reserves that have to be replaced with more expenditure. Your solar panel inc. gets tax deductions for depreciating manufacturing equipment, vehicles, tools at 20% a year and even your buildings at about 5% a year – this is over and above maintenance. I get a kick out of this “subsidizing the oil companies” – this is the biggest industry generator of government income there is.

August 11, 2012 7:58 am

Here’s what a fellow geologist wrote to me after an earthquake in Oklahoma. Note–there is an enormous different in fluid volume between disposing og 10,000 barrels of water per well per day, and a frac:
“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 news keeps trying to blame it on fracs.
No, it isn’t a frac, but we did notice that they are pumping mind boggling amounts of water (over 10,000 barrels water per day perwell) in hundreds of wells near epicenter/fault (huge water reinjection sweep)
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
the misinformed public keeps blaming it on fracs, the industry can continue to categorically deny fracs are the cause.”

August 11, 2012 8:29 am

@ GeoLurking 8/11 12:43 am
I don’t doubt what you say about Rifting in general and the Rio Grande Rift in specifics. I just find any link between it and Denver seismic activity since 1950 to be non-existant.
Look at the Colorado Earthquake and Fault Map (pdf) Do the pink dots show any affinity with a N-S lineation that could possibly be linked with the Rio Grande Rift? Or are they more like clustered around a point source?
When I first saw this map yesterday, I was surprised at how many of the large circles were in the denver area and how few in other places. Now it is true that Denver is probably well covered with seismic stations so we are more likely to record 2s and 3s in Denver rather than in the San Luis Valley, But I don’t think 5s anywhere in the state will go unnoticed.

August 11, 2012 8:45 am

FILE CREATED: Sat Aug 11 15:36:19 2012
Geographic Grid Search Earthquakes= 6
Latitude: 41.000N - 37.000N
Longitude: 103.000W - 109.000W
Catalog Used: USHIS
Date Range: 1950/01/01 to 2012/01/01
Magnitude Range: 4.0 - 10.0
Data Selection: Significant U.S. Earthquakes (USHIS)
NFO km
USHIS 1960 10 11 080530.50 38.30 -107.60 49 5.5 mbBRK 6F. .......
USHIS 1962 02 05 144551.10 38.20 -107.60 25 4.7 MLGOL 5F. .......
USHIS 1966 10 03 022602.30 37.40 -104.10 10 4.6 MLGOL 6F. .......
USHIS 1967 04 10 190025.50 39.94 -104.75 5 4.3 LgHER 6F. .......
USHIS 1967 08 09 132506.20 39.90 -104.70 5 5.3 mbGS 7F. .......
USHIS 1967 11 27 050924.60 39.87 -104.88 5 5.2 mbGS 6F. .......

Source: Earthquate Search Significant Earthquakes within Colorado 1950-2012
Note the depths of the 1967 triplet.
When I did this same search two years ago, I was sure I got a third Mag 5 in 1968.

August 11, 2012 9:53 am AAPG Explorer Oct 2010: “Yes, Virginia, there is Induced Seismicity”. Written by David Brown with Frohlich as a principle source.
Article covers The Geysers of California, Denver, Basel Switzerland, with an emphasis on a Dallas 2008 Barnett Case Study conducted by Frohlich, Stump, and Hayward.
<a href= AAPG Explorer Dec 2001: Colorado Quakes Cause Concern
This is a good summary of the Denver Arsenal, Rangely Oil Field controlled injection experiment, a salt water control operation in the Paradox Valley Delores River, and the most recent episode in the Raton Basin.
The Raton case is possibly associated with a coal bed methane project and a well for disposal of “de-water operations” that took 2.5 million bbls of water in a year. That is 106 million gals, about 2/3 of Denver Arsenal in less time.

August 11, 2012 3:30 pm

Aside from the opinion pieces here I will say what I do know. Not what I think I know.
Near me the town of Blackpool, England, they started fracking in a prime location. They reckoned it could have enough gas to keep us going for many years to come. Then came two localised earthquakes right in the fracking zone. Work was halted. The Canadian firm who invested millions in start up costs wish to carry on but are warned they will incur all damages and costs. now want the Gov’t to push it through by law. Déjà vu.
Earthquakes in England that can be felt underfoot are extremely rare – possibly a twice in a lifetimes experience if you live in the right place. The odds of two separate hits right over the drilling zone almost go far beyond chance. The locals were originally backing this apart from a few who did not think using the mined out salt domes for storage as very clever or safe. Opinions are now very wary to emphatically against it.
In the USA it is common knowledge aquifers have become poisoned. People became ill. Others have massive amounts of gas explosively coming through their taps. Animals have mysteriously died. Methane is now bubbling up from all sorts of ponds, creeks and rivers. That is what they know of! plays a pretty horrible documentary about the frackers Mafia/legal tactics to enforce drilling on other peoples land and commonly installing the wells only 200′ from the farmsteads amongst all the other horrors.
What bothers me about drilling for methane is Radon. If the gas companies had the same enforcement on radiation; they would be shut down.

August 11, 2012 5:05 pm

Check out this historical marker.. Apparently fracking dates back to the 1600s!

August 11, 2012 5:10 pm

You jump from earthquakes to methane to radon. Relax, there is nothing dangerous about fracking. And think of the enormous amount of harmless, beneficial CO2 it adds to the biosphere!
It’s all good.
And folks in L.A. would laugh at what you call earthquakes. The biggest you have ever seen or felt in England is nothing. Nothing at all. So the cost/benefit analysis says: frack away! There is really no downside.

August 11, 2012 6:04 pm

Correlation does NOT equal causality. Even if one of the correlating events are rare. If tomorrow there was an earthquake and you lived next to wind turbines, would you blame them? Especially if they just went in? People get sick living by turbines. That would make those evil too.
One of the problems with this whole water discussion is people seem to believe ground water is completely enclosed and utterly safe unless some evil fracking company comes along (I would note that blaming the fracking company so they will pay $6000 for a new well when a well goes dry may seem cool, but it’s not. It’s bad behavior. And bad science.) ANY cutting into ground water can contaminate it. Heck, I can pour fracking chemicals down my well and blame the gas industry. Just like I put the chlorine in to kill the e-coli in my well. Methane underground can seep into the well (remember, no barrier–aquifers are not water tanks) and result in water that can “burn”. I live in a state with oil underground everywhere. It’s natural. It also makes my “good” water (which is what realtors call water that needs an RO system–I’m not being sarcastic) full of sulfur and other particulants. My water LITERALLY eats my metal plumbing fixtures after 5 or 6 years. I try to use cheap plastic ones wherever possible. Well water is not sparkling pure in many, many places.
You say you have seen things first hand. I have lived around gas and oil and uranium for thirty years. I see none of what you see when you watch slanted media accounts and people trying to blame someone for their misfortune. That is what I know.

Gunga Din
August 11, 2012 8:52 pm

A quote from the original (the good one) Battlestar Galactica: “What the Frack!”.
Has it ever occurred to the “Greens” that if they hadn’t tried to shut off drilling in Alaska and offshore then “fracking” wouldn’t be necessary or profitable?
If you want to blame George Bush for Katrina, blame AlBama for earthquakes.

August 11, 2012 9:56 pm

Each magnitude level represents about 31.6 times more energy released. It takes 32 magnitude 3s to equal the energy released in a magnitude 4, 1,000 magnitude 3s to equal a magnitude 5 … and a billion magnitude 3s to equal a single magnitude 9. So while a small quake may temporarily ease stress on a fault line, it does not prevent a large temblor.

August 12, 2012 10:40 am

“Methane is now bubbling up from all sorts of ponds, creeks and rivers.”
Methane used to be known as “swamp gas”. Ever wondered why?

August 12, 2012 10:41 am

“may be…”, “a study suggests…” Two first level BS indicators. *sigh* I really tire of the lame-assed attempts by these buffoons and evil clowns to convince the science illiterati that, “We’re all going to die (if you don’t cough up millions for my research).”

August 12, 2012 10:51 am

Erny72 says:
August 11, 2012 at 6:36 am
Jason says:
August 10, 2012 at 7:58 am
on the burning tap water Erny72, don’t forget the other on-site studies showing natural methane from shallow bogs and other natural rot just below ground level. As you note, it’s all a big lie. We’ve even got residents sharing family history of burning water going back to the 1800’s – long before ANY drilling. Jason would be encouraged to do some ACTUAL research on this subject instead of relying on KOS and Huff-N-Puff Post and other hyper-ventilating pits of nonsense for his “facts”.
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. – Daniel Patrick Moynihan

bob alou
August 13, 2012 6:10 am

Gary Pearse says:
August 11, 2012 at 7:20 am
I have to disagree with you start date for fracing in the Barnett Shale. I was the engineer working for Mitchell Energy in the early ’80s when we started drilling for the Barnett on purpose. It had been encountered for as long as drilling had been going on in North Texas. It was responsible for several blowouts when drilling for deeper plays. Attempts were made to complete in the Barnett but none were successful due to the extremely low permeability (measured in the nanodarcy range).
The first well, C. W. Slay #1, was completed only by perforating due to the fear of what water would do to a shale. We then moved along in a very expensive series of steps. We stimulated wells with injections of nitrogen only, CO2 only (yes, way back then than nasty GHG was used in the oil field for injection), foamed CO2 w/sand, CO2 w/water and sand (the CO2 was used to help unload the well faster). Finally we went to a straight gelled water w/sand completion using about two million pounds of sand. Mitchell had already done five million pound frac jobs over in Limestone County.
These wells were all vertical completions. I lost track of the goings on after the bust in the mid-80’s but it is the combination of the horizontal drilling and the massive frac jobs that make the tight shale gas development economical, albeit at today’s price for gas it is marginal at best.
Mike L.

Crispin in Waterloo
August 13, 2012 7:41 am

@Gary Pearce
“I think the outcry is more over the fact that oil and gas haven’t peaked after all and “this has gotta be stopped!” We owe a lot to the much maligned “Big Oil” for our prosperity and wellbeing. And for those who think that this sector is being subsidized – that is a lot of hooey.”
Seconded. When will the super-successful solar electric sector have their unnecessary subsidies snipped?
The oil just keeps a-comin’. And as the efficiency of its use continues to improve, I am more and more impressed. Slowly but surely the idea that it is abiotic is slowly sinking in like a grease stain on a concrete floor. No matter how cement-headed the ‘fossil fuel’ believer, it is permeating the collective consciousness: there is a lot more than was heretofore believed.
It was mentioned above that oil is not found/searched for at major fault lines. Well, there is a school of thought that holds the opposite: that the largest oil finds will be at the places where it is able to rise from its place of ‘manufacture’ in the heated deeps. Keep your eye on Haiti and what happens there offshore in the coming years (it is a place of major faults and Big Oil is snooping around).
Proppants are said above to be sand. There are also ceramic proppants with much higher strength and consistent size and shape. See for example Their advantages include having a controllable density to assist mixing and placement at a particular site.

Neill Walters
August 20, 2012 8:49 am

The oil and gas companies are so rich they could give us each a million dollars and it would not touch their bottom line. Instead we are paying taxes to subsidize these corporate raiders who are in our faces saying that fracking does not contribute to earthquakes, and belittles and bullies anyone who tries to stand up to them. If you folks in Arkansas believe that drilling deep into the earth, fracturing the rocks, then injecting mystery fluids into the cracks, is not in any way connected to your earthquakes, then you deserve them.

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