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

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Mervyn

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!

daveandrews723

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

ponysboy

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.

norah4you

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.

Bill Illis

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.

Robert Doyle

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.

Steve Taylor

@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.

Kaboom

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.

Dr. Bob

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.

chuck

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

Kevin Kilty

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.

Philip

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.

Alan Robertson

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.

That there is “fracking hysteria” among the Alarmist/Warmists has been known for a long time.
Nothing earth shaking about it.
/grin

chuck

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.

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.)

JohnH

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?

Don Bennett

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.

Alan Robertson

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.)

Count_to_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”
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.

chuck

Alan Robertson says:
July 5, 2014 at 6:59 am
Look at the seventh’s entry from a state that has a wealth of experience with earthquakes.
..
http://www.consrv.ca.gov/index/earthquakes/Pages/qh_earthquakes_myths.aspx

R. Shearer

The history of earthquakes is quite interesting. That of Oklahoma is given here: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states/oklahoma/history.php

chuck

Count_to_10 says:
July 5, 2014 at 7:04 am
Please review my post with link to “Earthquake Mythology”

Patricia

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.

fhsiv

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…….

latecommer2014

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.

latecommer2014

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?,

Tsk Tsk

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.

ponysboy

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.

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.

jackslucid

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.

John

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.

John

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

chuck

latecommer2014 says:
July 5, 2014 at 7:39 am
” reduce the severity of potential quakes.”
..
Please review item number seven in this list of Earthquake Myths.
..
http://www.consrv.ca.gov/index/earthquakes/Pages/qh_earthquakes_myths.aspx

latecommer2014

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

cirby

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.

chuck

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.

chuck

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.

Fraizer

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.

“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!

Gary Pearse

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).

Gary Pearse

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”.

chuck

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.

Alan Robertson

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.

Craig Loehle

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

Alan Robertson

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…

Gary Pearse

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.

mjc

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.

“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.

“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.