Can Climate Affect Earthquakes, Or Are the Connections Shaky?

If ifs and buts were candy and nuts~ctm

From NASA Global Climate Change

Can Climate Affect Earthquakes, Or Are the Connections Shaky?

A USGS Earthquake Science Center Mobile Laser Scanning truck scans the surface rupture near the zone of maximum surface displacement of the magnitude 7.1 Searles Valley earthquake that struck the Ridgecrest, California area. Credit: USGS / Ben Brooks

A USGS Earthquake Science Center Mobile Laser Scanning truck scans the surface rupture near the zone of maximum surface displacement of the magnitude 7.1 Searles Valley earthquake that struck the Ridgecrest, California area. Credit: USGS / Ben Brooks

By Alan Buis,
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The twin magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes that struck the Ridgecrest area in California’s Mojave Desert northeast of Los Angeles on July 4 and 5, respectively, were felt by up to 30 million people in California, Nevada, Arizona and Baja California, resulting in loss of life, injuries, billions in damage and lots of frazzled nerves. While the remote location undoubtedly minimized impacts, the quakes did serve as a wake-up call for complacent Californians that they live in Earthquake Country and need to prepare for the inevitable “Big One” that scientists say is sure to come. They also got people talking about all aspects of earthquakes.

There are lots of myths about earthquakes. A common one is that there’s such a thing as “earthquake weather” — certain types of weather conditions that typically precede earthquakes, such as hot and dry, or dry and cloudy. The myth stems from the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who proposed in the 4th century B.C. that earthquakes were caused by trapped winds escaping from subterranean caves. He believed the large amounts of air trapped underground would make weather on Earth’s surface before a quake hot and calm.

With the advent of seismology — the study of earthquakes — we now know that most quakes are caused by tectonic processes — forces within the solid Earth that drive changes in the structure of Earth’s crust, primarily the rupture of underground rock masses along faults (linear zones of weakness). We also know that most earthquakes occur far beneath Earth’s surface, well beyond the influence of surface temperatures and conditions. Finally, we know the statistical distribution of earthquakes is approximately equal across all types of weather conditions. Myth busted.

In fact, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the only correlation that’s been noted between earthquakes and weather is that large changes in atmospheric pressure caused by major storms like hurricanes have been shown to occasionally trigger what are known as “slow earthquakes,” which release energy over comparatively long periods of time and don’t result in ground shaking like traditional earthquakes do. They note that while such large low-pressure changes could potentially be a contributor to triggering a damaging earthquake, “the numbers are small and are not statistically significant.”

But what about climate? Are there any connections between climate phenomena and earthquakes? We asked geophysicist Paul Lundgren of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to do a scientific shakedown on the matter.

Weighing the Seismic Consequences of Water

In order to make any connection between climate and earthquakes, says Lundgren, you first have to determine what kinds of tectonic processes might be related to climate phenomena. Scientists know earthquakes can be triggered or inhibited by changes in the amount of stress on a fault. The largest climate variable that could change fault stress loads is surface water in the form of rain and snow. Lundgren says several studies have supported such correlations. But there’s a catch.

“Typically, where we’ve seen these types of correlations is in microseismicity — tiny earthquakes with magnitudes less than zero, far smaller than humans can feel,” he said. “Those occur quite frequently.”

Lundgren cited work by his colleague Jean-Philippe Avouac at Caltech and others, who’ve found a correlation between the amount of microseismicity in the Himalaya and the annual monsoon season. During the summer months, large amounts of precipitation fall on the Indo-Gangetic Plain, which encompasses the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent. This increases stress loads on Earth’s crust there and decreases levels of microseismicity in the adjacent Himalaya. During the winter dry season, when there’s less water weight on Earth’s crust in the plain, Himalayan microseismicity peaks.

Advancing monsoon clouds and showers in Aralvaimozhy, near Nagercoil, India

Advancing monsoon clouds and showers in Aralvaimozhy, near Nagercoil, India. Precipitation during the annual monsoon season in the Indo-Gangetic Plain increases stress loads on Earth’s crust there and decreases the number of microearthquakes in the adjacent Himalaya. Conversely, during the dry season, the reduced water weight on Earth’s crust in the plain causes microseismicity in the Himalaya to peak. Credit: w:user:PlaneMad [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Lundgren says it gets much more difficult, however, to make such inferences about larger earthquakes.

“We’ve seen that relatively small stress changes due to climate-like forcings can effect microseismicity,” he said. “A lot of small fractures in Earth’s crust are unstable. We see also that tides can cause faint Earth tremors known as microseisms. But the real problem is taking our knowledge of microseismicity and scaling it up to apply it to a big quake, or a quake of any size that people could feel, really.” Climate-related stress changes might or might not promote an earthquake to occur, but we have no way of knowing by how much.

“We don’t know when a fault may be at the critical point where a non-tectonic forcing related to a climate process could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, resulting in a sizeable earthquake, and why then and not earlier?” he said. “We’re simply not in a position at this point to say that climate processes could trigger a large quake.”

What About Droughts?

We know seasonal effects can cause changes on faults, but what about less periodic climate phenomena, like a long-term drought? Might they cause changes too?

As it turns out, changes in stress loads on Earth’s crust from periods of drought can, in fact, be significant. Research by JPL scientist Donald Argus and others in 2017 using data from a network of high-precision GPS stations in California, Oregon and Washington found that alternating periods of drought and heavy precipitation in the Sierra Nevada between 2011 and 2017 actually caused the mountain range to rise by nearly an inch and then fall by half that amount, as the mountain rocks lost water during the drought and then regained it. The study didn’t specifically look at potential impacts on faults, but such stress changes could potentially be felt on faults in or near the range.

Sierra Nevada, CA

The Sierra Nevada range in California rose almost an inch between 2011 and 2015 during a period of drought due to loss of water from within fractured rocks. Such changes in stress loads on Earth’s crust could potentially be felt on faults in or near the range. Credit: trailkrum, CC-BY-2.0

Similarly, pumping of groundwater from underground aquifers by humans, which is exacerbated during times of drought, has also been shown to impact patterns of stress loads by “unweighting” Earth’s crust. Lundgren pointed to a 2014 study in the journal Nature by Amos et al. that looked at the effects of groundwater extraction in California’s Central Valley on seismicity on the adjacent San Andreas Fault. The researchers found that such extractions can promote lateral changes in stress to the two sides of the San Andreas, which move horizontally against each other along the boundary of two major tectonic plates. This could potentially cause them to unclamp and slip, resulting in an earthquake.

Subsidence in California's San Joaquin Valley

Subsidence in California’s San Joaquin Valley for the period May 3, 2014 to Jan. 22, 2015, as measured by Canada’s Radarsat-2 satellite. A 2014 Nature study found groundwater pumping can promote lateral stress changes on the San Andreas Fault, potentially causing them to unclamp, resulting in an earthquake. Credit: Canadian Space Agency/NASA/JPL-Caltech

Subsidence in California’s San Joaquin Valley for the period May 3, 2014 to Jan. 22, 2015, as measured by Canada’s Radarsat-2 satellite. A 2014 Nature study found groundwater pumping can promote lateral stress changes on the San Andreas Fault, potentially causing them to unclamp, resulting in an earthquake. Credit: Canadian Space Agency/NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Such stresses are small, but if you have groundwater pumping over a long period of time, then they could become more significant,” he said. “Even though such changes might be small compared with stress changes caused by the normal buildup of stress on a fault from tectonic processes, it could potentially hasten the onset of the next big quake on the San Andreas. In addition, because the amount of slip on a fault increases with time between earthquakes, this could result in more frequent but smaller quakes.”

However, says Lundgren, the Fort Tejon segment of the San Andreas Fault that is nearest to the Central Valley last ruptured in 1857, so given the erratic nature of earthquakes along the fault and the great variability in time between events, with our current level of knowledge, scientists are far from understanding when and where the next large earthquake will occur on it.

Fire and Ice: Glaciers and Tectonic Processes

Eruption at Iceland's Holuhraun lava field

Eruption at Iceland’s Holuhraun lava field, September 4, 2014. A 2017 study of Iceland volcanic activity 4,500 to 5,500 years ago found a link between deglaciation and increased volcanic activity. Credit: peterhartree [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Another climate-related phenomenon that’s believed to have connections to tectonic processes is glaciation. The retreat of a glacier can reduce stress loads on Earth’s crust underneath, impacting the movement of subsurface magma. A recent study in the journal Geology on volcanic activity in Iceland between 4,500 and 5,500 years ago, when Earth was much cooler than today, found a link between deglaciation and increased volcanic activity. Conversely, when glacial cover increased, eruptions declined.

The rapid movement of glaciers has also been shown to cause what are known as glacial earthquakes. Glacial earthquakes in Greenland peak in frequency in the summer months and have been steadily increasing over time, possibly in response to global warming.

Human Uses of Water and Induced Seismicity

In addition to climate-related impacts of water on seismicity, human management and applications of water can also affect earthquakes through a phenomenon known as induced seismicity.

For example, water stored in large dams has been linked to earthquake activity in various locations around the world, though the impact is localized in nature. In 1975, approximately eight years after Northern California’s Lake Oroville, the state’s second-largest human-built reservoir, was created behind the Oroville Dam, a series of earthquakes occurred nearby, the largest registering magnitude 5.7. Shortly after the water in the reservoir was drawn down to its lowest level since it was originally filled in order to repair intakes to the dam’s power plant and then refilled, the earthquakes occurred.

Lake Oroville in California

Lake Oroville in California was the site of a magnitude 5.7 earthquake in 1975 that was linked to changing stress loads on a local fault triggered by fluctuations in the reservoir’s water level. Credit: Quinn Comendant [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Several studies investigating the quakes concluded that fluctuations in the reservoir level, and corresponding changes in the weight of the reservoir, changed the stress loads on a local fault, triggering the quakes. Monitoring of earthquake activity at the reservoir in the years following the quakes established a seasonal correlation between the reservoir’s level and seismicity. Seismicity decreases as the reservoir fills in winter and spring, and the largest earthquakes tend to occur as the reservoir level falls in the summer and fall.

Induced seismicity can also occur when human water applications lubricate a fault. Studies by USGS and other institutions have linked sharp increases in earthquake activity in Oklahoma and other Midwest and Eastern U.S. states in recent years to increases in the practice of injecting wastewater into the ground during petroleum operations. Injection wells place fluids underground into porous geologic formations, where scientists believe they can sometimes enter buried faults that are ready to slip, changing the pore pressure on them and causing them to slip.

House damage in central Oklahoma

House damage in central Oklahoma from the magnitude 5.6 earthquake on Nov. 6, 2011. Research conducted by USGS geophysicist Elizabeth Cochran and her university-based colleagues suggests that this earthquake was induced by injection into deep disposal wells in the Wilzetta North field. Credit: USGS/Brian Sherrod

Getting the Big Picture of the Earth System’s Interconnectivity

Lundgren says when he first started studying earthquakes, everything was focused on understanding them within the context of plate tectonics and processes happening within Earth’s crust. But that’s now changing.

“In the past decade or so, with the widespread adoption of new technologies such as GPS that have greater spatial distribution and sensitivity, people have also begun looking at other second-order effects — other factors that might have an influence on earthquakes,” he said. “It’s very intriguing to be able to find potential links between earthquakes and climate, such as seasonal differences. The challenge, however, is squaring such connections with fundamental physics.

“We’re not close to being able to predict when an earthquake may occur as a result of climate processes,” he concluded. “Even if we know that some outside climate process is potentially affecting a fault system, since we don’t know the fault’s potential state of readiness to break, we can’t yet make that extra inference to say, ah ha, I might get a quake a week or a month later.”

What these studies do emphasize is the incredible complexity of our Earth system. Continued research will help us better unravel how its various components are interconnected, sometimes in surprising ways.

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75 thoughts on “Can Climate Affect Earthquakes, Or Are the Connections Shaky?

  1. I enjoyed this post because it was suitably cautious but didn’t miss much. I recall a few years ago the CBC had a blaring alarmist article about how climate change was going to cause a dormant volcano near Vancouver to erupt and destroy the city. I was irritated enough by this blaring nonsense that I contacted the scientist quoted for a direct explanation. We exchanged a few emails. He explained the particulars on the specific volcano in question. It was very big. It was not really dormant as there was some escaping gases and heat so it was technically active and capable of an eruption. It had a very big glacier in the top over the top cone. He had theorized that if the glacier melted and if there was magma high up in the cone, and if the sides of the volcano were destabilized and if that destabilization led to landslides that exposed some of the volcano’s plumbing, then an eruption could potentially occur. Did he think climate change meant we needed to panic like CBC suggested? No, but it would be wise to be monitoring a volcano of that size so close to a major city, properly monitoring the way they do in the USA, which we were not currently doing because of lack of interest from the government and lack of funding. He did not actually say this but I also got the impression during our email exchange, that he was using the magic climate change angle for the funding he needed to be able to start monitoring that volcano properly. Since climate change is the magic word for funding, the insane article about Vancouver being covered with lava due to climate change suddenly made sense. he would not be the first scientist I have known who jumped on the climate change band wagon because that’s where the money is.

    • 4 Nested “if’s”. Gotta love ‘em. Hollywood disaster movies thrive on them, just like climate science rent seekers.

      • He used the “ifs” and I am sure he meant them. CBC somehow lost them in translation. That was why I contacted him directly to get the straight scoop, complete with ifs.

      • Proving, once again, that NASA and NOAA scientists should stick with their own fields of expertise.

        Embedded photo of Earthquake damage and the photograph’s description. Bolding,mine.

        “House damage in central Oklahoma from the magnitude 5.6 earthquake on Nov. 6, 2011. Research conducted by USGS geophysicist Elizabeth Cochran and her university-based colleagues suggests that this earthquake was induced by injection into deep disposal wells in the Wilzetta North field. Credit: USGS/Brian Sherrod”

        What NASA said:
        “Induced seismicity can also occur when human water applications lubricate a fault. Studies by USGS and other institutions have linked sharp increases in earthquake activity in Oklahoma and other Midwest and Eastern U.S. states in recent years to increases in the practice of injecting wastewater into the ground during petroleum operations. Injection wells place fluids underground into porous geologic formations, where scientists believe they can sometimes enter buried faults that are ready to slip, changing the pore pressure on them and causing them to slip.”

        The original researcher couched their statement carefully with significant caveats. NASA promoted that “suggests”

        Neither of them have explained how wastewater injection travels miles horizontally and vertically to cause the claimed quakes. Both research groups ignore that any faults in Oklahoma are possibly linked to the New Madrid fault that has steadily been building stress since the 1811-1812 Earthquake.

        Fortunately, USGS provides a mapping tool.
        Here are the recorded Earthquakes on USGS record; especially those Earthquakes since 1950-1960.
        https://www.dropbox.com/s/teg2e8c94q3i8jq/CentralAmericaEarthquakes.JPG?dl=0

        N.B. all of the earthquakes in Oklahoma that have been happening since mid Twentieth Century.
        Amazing isn’t it?
        All those quakes recorded well before fracking began.

        Then, maybe NASA can explain how injected wastwater travels miles through faulted systems to cause an Earthquake miles away. Why doesn’t the earth quakes happen exactly where the wastewater is injected?

    • This is not a known geologic condition. Magma rises generally due to density contrast, then when the contrast is near zero (some structural resistance stops it from true equilibrium), the magma accelerates its freezing. This freezing is crystallization, and progressive crystal fractionation segregates volatiles, which volatile accumulation may raise pressure enough for a more aggressive eruption. In your mentioned scenario, magma high up in a volcanic cone, any progressive crystallization would produce enough pressure for the magma to escape sideways (think of the plumbing in your house, leaks are more common on the ground floor because the pressure is higher).

      Microseismic events less than zero? I will quit before I get snipped.

      • “Ron Long November 11, 2019 at 12:37 pm
        This is not a known geologic condition. Magma rises generally due to density contrast, then when the contrast is near zero (some structural resistance stops it from true equilibrium), the magma accelerates its freezing. This freezing is crystallization, and progressive crystal fractionation segregates volatiles, which volatile accumulation may raise pressure enough for a more aggressive eruption. In your mentioned scenario, magma high up in a volcanic cone, any progressive crystallization would produce enough pressure for the magma to escape sideways”

        A) Elements and mineral in a magma body solidify at different rates. The last to solidify are high water content saturated elements and minerals.
        B) Cooling happens over millions of years to hundreds of million years in not unusual.
        C) e.g. granite grain size is directly related to cooling rate. The larger the mineral grains and crystals, the longer that magmatic body took to cool.

        That pressure from magmatic cooling you reference is when pegmatites are formed; often traveling significant distance; either through existing cracks or fissures magmatic pressure force to happen.

        Formed along with the pegmatites are ore bodies. e.g. gold dissolved in super hot super saturated water solutions gets deposited as the gold solidifies out of solution as it travels towards the surface away from the magmatic heat source.
        Fabulous gemmy crystals, e.g. large colorful tourmalines are formed over tens of millions of years minimum.
        There is a section of a beryl crystal on display in the Smithsonian Museum. By display, Smithsonian has it serving as a bench by a wall and is chair height and quite comfortable to sit upon without crouching. Feldspar crystals can be many times larger.

        When discussing magmatic bodies, geologic time is paramount. When discussing lava, human relatable time can be relevant.

        Microseismic events? This strikes that they are measuring rocks falling.
        Unexplained is that the Himalayas, indeed many growing mountain ranges, are being thrust up. Often caused by tectonic forces.
        A soaking wet mountain range weighs significantly more than when that mountain range is bone dry. A tectonic collision provides XX amount of upward thrust. Heavier means slower and lower growth. Bone dry lighter weight means a more rapid rise.

        leaving us wondering why NASA is trying so hard to link geologic events to the dreaded “climate change”? Isn’t carbon dioxide a most miraculous molecule?
        Reminds me of the ant and the rubber tree song.

      • “Microseismic events less than zero? I will quit before I get snipped.”
        This raised my eyebrow (only the one, like Spock) as well.

  2. One must remember that the filling of the Chinese Three Gorges dam caused the earth axis tilt to increase and the rotation of the earth to slow down.

  3. Anyone have any idea of how these ‘potential’, ‘could’, and ‘may’ climate-related forces compare to lunar tidal forces?

    Even if weaker, tidal forces exert ‘push-pull’ variable forces, not a unidirectional constant force, which would greatly exacerbate stresses that lead to earthquakes.

    • Maybe they create energy dead zones where all the life gets sucked out of the region. I know some people with this power.

    • Both the “Richter” and “Moment magnitude” seismic scales are logarithmic. The former is based on the amplitude of the earthquake waves, the latter based on estimates of the amount of energy required to break apart local crustal rocks. So it’s possible, for instance, to have an earthquake that measures <0 on both these scales. But any earthquake with a magnitude <2 is conventionally referred to as a "microearthquake", and wouldn't be noticed by anyone living in the vicinity of the event.

    • Magnitudes are not an absolute scale- they’re measured on a logarithmic scale. From “What If”, by Randall Munroe: magnitude 0- pro football team running full speed into your garage door.
      magnitude minus 2- a cat falling off your dresser,
      magnitude minus 4- a penny falling off a dog,
      magnitude minus 8- a key pressed on a lightweight keyboard,
      magnitude minus 15- a speck of dust settling on a table.

  4. All this is sort of common sense, could be mused on by any bright high school student – and shows just how incredibly interconnected everything must be on Mother Earth (and therefore impossible to plan for) – but you watch what our earnest climate alarmists will make of it. And I’m sure more funding for further research will be easy to obtain. It’s all so funny, isn’t it?. But when you think of the billions wasted on pretty useless research like this, it stops being funny.

    • Espersen:
      Everybody who is anybody knows that anything bad that happens on this planet is either caused by climate change, President Trump (if he is still president) or former President Trump (if a Dunbocrat happens to be president). That is a scientific fact.

      Another scientific fact: The average temperature of California is 62 degrees F. — A temperature increase of just +0.1 degrees F. would increase the number of earthquakes (and wildfires too) by +8.5290% +/- 0.0001. The science of earthquakes is settled, and could be explained by a bright high school student, as you already mentioned. Perhaps you know of a bright high school student, who could explain it to me. Note: This comment is serious and not meant to be sarcastic.

      • Richard Greene – I completely agree with you. But you miss my point which is precisely that this so-called “research” is quite irrelevant in the big scheme of global climate change. It is quite likely that if you search diligently enough you may find examples of extremely low air pressures being the final straw which “breaks the camel’s back” in an earthquake situation – but so what? Yes, as you say, of course “the science of earthquakes is settled”. Settled enough that is – but there will always be room for a bit more “settling”. Seriously researching for the effects of changing climate on earthquakes is plain idiotic – and should only happen if all the costs for research comes out of the researcher’s own pockets – or those of his/her inane followers.

        • Andy
          I miss many points.

          I suppose some of my comments should start with”I’m trying to be funny here”, and end with “I just tried to be funny here”.

          When I tell these made up “facts” to leftists, they believe me.

          And science is never “settled”, about earthquakes, or anything else.

          If science was settled, why would we need scientists?

          I wish climate scientists would examine something useful, like “pink slips” announcing they are no longer on the goobermint payroll.

          They should work on something useful, that could save the planet in 11 years or less (13 years would obviously be too long), such as my proposals for “Dual Power Windmills”, powered by natural wind, supplemented by nuclear powered fans, and Sail-Cars, with sails mounted on the roofs, like sailboats.

  5. Water volume in an area really is very important. The weight of water on a fault like the New Madrid fault may have real significance.

    Every now and then, we get reminders here in the Midwest that those old faults aren’t really dormant, just waiting for the right moment to go BOOM! The weather gods are now giving us higher than usual volumes of rain (and now snow 🙁 ) which – if it melts before mid-month- all flows downstream into the Mississippi River, and that is a real concern. Every now and then, we get a small quake that people in highrises in Chicago can feel, but aren’t felt if you’re at ground level. I’m thinking that the excess water volume we’re getting may certainly trigger more of these small quakes. Those relieve some stress, but there’s another New Madrid quake coming one of these days, and an increased rainfall/snow volume may help it happen.

    • Sara,
      When I was in college in St. Louis in 1966 or 67, I was awoken one morning by the bed shaking and a loose screen on the window in my dorm room banging. It was an earthquake from the New Madrid fault. I could hear screaming in the halls and girls running.
      I’m not a morning person, to put it mildly, and it would take much more than an earthquake to get me out of bed and energetic enough to run around and scream so, I waited and went back to sleep after it quit shaking.
      For a mid-westerner, though, it was quite an unforgettable experience and a reminder that the New Madrid fault lives.

    • KcTaz, there were two times when I was sitting on a couch in two different 2nd floor apartments when the couch started rattling. Spooked the living daylights out of me, until I realized that both were quakes that you don’t feel at street level. And all those faults, large and small are connected to that giant mid-continent zone.
      There’s really no safe place on this planet. We’re just lucky to be in a quiet period.

  6. It’s the new improved methodology for floating scarier and scarier climate fearology. Start with a reasonable sounding guy who doesn’t really think that could be true but then he looks into it more and more and before you know it we’re getting somewhere and the reasonable guy now begins to see the light and then he consults some super duper credible expert, maybe a rocket scientist, who lays out the science of it and there you have it. Yet another outlandish climate fearology sold as science and scientific fact and in a clever good-cop-bad-cop routine. The good news part of this charade is that climate fearology is getting harder and harder to sell.

  7. Very good post, but mankind’s use of water from surface reservoirs and underground aquifers is an INDIRECT result of climate.

    Related to this, but left unmentioned in the article because it is not a direct result of climate, is the known fact that hydraulic fracking itself and injection of fracking wastewater fluid into underground rock strata can trigger earthquakes, some of significant magnitude (at least one approaching magnitude 6 on the Richter scale, see https://earthworks.org/issues/fracking_earthquakes/ )

    Bottom line: Not everything bad in the world can be blamed on “climate change”.

    • Ooops . . . mea culpa.

      In my initial read through of the above article leading my above post, I completely missed (spaced out?) on the fact that there is indeed a paragraph and accompanying photo that talks about fracking wastewater injection underground leading to earthquakes. Nevertheless, it does not mention the fact that the process of fracking itself can initiate earthquakes.

      My bottom line conclusion remains the same.

    • The writer does mention injection of wastewater seismicity due to “petroleum operations” in Oklahoma with the accompanied photo of a masonry chimney collapse damage on a home there. He doesn’t use the word fracking though to his credit. The waste water disposal by re-injection is a separate process from fracking to finish a petroleum or gas well.

    • But the waste water injection is directly related to fracking for oil and gas, and therefore by extension it is related to ‘climate change’ because they say burning oil and gas cause climate change. It is like equating the loss of elephants in Africa with hydro carbons because hunters can now fly directly to Africa and shoot all the elephants and lions. If it wasn’t for the oil and gas, the foreign hunters couldn’t so easily get there. In fact, if it wasn’t for oil and gas, there would still only be a few billion people on the planet, or less, living our life in short misery.

      • Earthling2, if I follow your argument, then almost every technical device in the world is related to “climate change” because almost all man-made devices at one time or another employed the burning of one or more fossils fuel to come into existence. This applies to the technology in electrical power plants, the structures and generators in wind turbine farms, the structures and PV solar cells of solar farms, the transmissions towers and wiring to distribute electricity for any type of electrical generation plant/farm. Carried to its logical conclusion, this would say the use of reusable energy sources is related to climate change in a negative way.

        Heck, every commercial agriculture would then be linked to climate change because—excluding perhaps the Amish—almost all farmers employ fossil fuels (or fossil fuel derived products such as fertilizers) to seed, grow, maintain, and harvest their crops.

        If it wasn’t for coal, oil and natural gas, I suspect there would be far less than 1 billion people living on Earth.

        • Yes, you’re right. Probably less than a billion people if we had not ‘discovered’ fossil fuels. And most everything we have today is a direct result of the development of fossil fuels. In the scheme of things, from the standpoint of civilization continuing for thousands of years into the future, our use of of fossil fuels since 1850 may last 200-300 years, if that, if price point is considered. We probably never run out of fossil fuels, just affordable FF’s.

          But as it has been said before, if fossil fuels didn’t exist, we would have to invent them. Luckily, if you have electricity you can make synthetic fuel out of hydrogen and CO2, and my bet is that this is what the next 1000 years look like after FF’s get too expensive to mine or drill. The energy density is still a lot higher than any battery and I can’t see anything replacing Jet B fuel for aviation in the future as just one example. So, we will probably need some type of advanced nuclear electricity since renewables certainly won’t solve that issue. But my bet is that the world will continue to run on renewable synthetic oils for a 1000 years.

          As for dangerous climate change being caused by rising atmospheric CO2 levels, I just don’t see it. The LIA was at least 1degree C colder than the average temp in 1850, and it has barely even warmed up that 1 degree from the end of the LIA in 1850. Natural variation is probably responsible for the majority of that. A better long term argument for finding replacements to FF’s is price point and the damage that high priced fossil oil derivatives will be to damaging the economy. That is probably 50 years off, maybe a 100 years depending how high they raise carbon taxes. There is a lot of oil, gas and coal left on the planet, and I doubt we we will ever run out any time soon. We will just find or create better alternatives that are cheaper and easier to manufacture when the easier to access FF’s are consumed.

          • Earthling2, well stated.

            I agree with your insight and conclusions, albeit I am mindful of the quote “It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

            Especially regarding 1000 years into the future . . . a safe and affordable compact H-H fusion reactor with, say, >30% conversion efficiency to temperatures above 500 C or directly to DC electricity would solve nearly all of the world’s energy problems. Not saying anything about the associated problem of waste heat.

  8. The pseudoscience is spreading to other disciplines. Those OK earthquakes that were first purportedly caused by fracking, and then purportedly by water disposal, are still occurring despite a drastic decrease in disposal.

  9. Any studies on increased seismic activity caused by cosmic variations (changing solar wind, changing magnetic strength, etc.) which can also influence climate?

    • Planetary temperature changes in the last 35 years correlates with increase in mid-ocean seismic activity (all over the planet) which occurred during that period. The large increase in mid-ocean earthquake frequency all over the planet, (300% to 400%) started in 1994.

      Prior to 1994, planetary cloud cover closely correlated to GRC galactic cosmic rays (GCR are mostly high speed protons, the particles are called ‘rays’ as the discovers thought it might be a new ‘ray’ and we are so sloppy we use incorrect labeling in science).

      The pattern is there is a sudden increase in mid-ocean ridge earthquake frequency and then 2 years later there is warming in specific regions of the planet.

      Paradoxically, planetary temperature does not track CO2 changes in the last 35 years.

      Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere tracks temperature change where the level of CO2 in the atmosphere increases after a warming period.

      https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/have-global-temperatures-reached-a-tipping-point-2573-458X-1000149.pdf

      Two previous studies, The Correlation of Seismic Activity and Recent Global Warming (CSARGW) and the Correlation of Seismic Activity and Recent Global Warming: 2016 Update (CSARGW16), documented a high correlation between mid-ocean seismic activity and global temperatures from 1979 to 2016 [1,2]. As detailed in those studies, increasing seismic activity in these submarine volcanic complexes is a proxy indicator of heightened underwater geothermal flux, a forcing mechanism that destabilizes the overlying water column.

      Namely, increased seismic activity in the HGFA (i.e., the mid-ocean’s spreading zones) serves as a proxy indicator of higher geothermal flux in these regions. The HGFA include the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the East Pacific Rise, the West Chile Rise, the Ridges of the Indian Ocean, and the Ridges of the Antarctic/Southern Ocean. This additional mid-ocean heating causes an acceleration of oceanic overturning and thermobaric convection, resulting in higher ocean temperatures and greater heat transport into the Arctic [2,3]. This manifests itself as an anomaly known as the “Arctic Amplification,” where the Arctic warms to a much greater degree than the rest of the globe (Table 1) [4,5].

      Multiple in dependent analysis, using different observations have unequivocally shown that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are responsible for less than 5% of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2.

      This is one of a dozen independent analysis that reach the same conclusion.

      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257343053_The_phase_relation_between_atmospheric_carbon_dioxide_and_global_temperature
      The phase relation between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature

      Summing up, our analysis suggests that changes in atmospheric CO2 appear to occur largely independently of changes in anthropogene emissions.

      …a similar conclusion was reached by Bacastow (1976), suggesting a coupling between atmospheric CO2 and the Southern Oscillation. However, by this we have not demonstrated that CO2 released by burning fossil fuels is without influence on the amount of atmospheric CO2, but merely that the effect is small compared to the effect of other processes. Our previous analyses suggest that such other more important effects are related to temperature, and with ocean surface temperature near or south of the Equator pointing itself out as being of special importance for changes in the global amount of atmospheric CO2.

      • William Astley,

        Thank you for the insight. The earths climate is always more complicated than the AGW messengers/communicators make it out to be. Wish more of the grant money could be directed at studies like these.

  10. Since a quiet sun means less solar wind pressure on the earth seems to produce a loopy jet stream affecting weather and perhaps long term the climate, since western Alaska didn’t glaciate. Maybe less pressure on the crust allows for some adjustments, ie. earthquakes., So it’s not climate causing earthquakes, it is what affects the earth was a whole, the sun, is the root cause.

    • Interesting, indeed, at 11:52 Paris time, just as I was reading about the general increase of galactic cosmic rays that’s occurred more or less since the sun went quiet, my little corner of France experienced a 5.4 magnitude earthquake:

      https://www.bfmtv.com/planete/un-tremblement-de-terre-pres-de-montelimar-ressenti-jusque-dans-l-agglomeration-lyonnaise-1803772.html

      In my casual layman’s fashion I was thinking there might be a correlation between increased cosmic rays and increased subterranean activity such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. And then, just as I was looking at the number of earthquakes for 2019 my living room trembled for an instant. A banal but impressive coincidence.

      I’d wager that the same cosmic forces that help create climatic conditions on Earth also impact such phenomena as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions among others.

  11. “The largest climate variable that could change fault stress loads is surface water in the form of rain and snow.”

    Rain and snow are climate variables, and not weather variables?

  12. A recent study in the journal Geology on volcanic activity in Iceland between 4,500 and 5,500 years ago, when Earth was much cooler than today, found a link between deglaciation and increased volcanic activity. Conversely, when glacial cover increased, eruptions declined.“

    That statement has several problems to an otherwise well written article. The abstract of the linked study referenced says this, “We identify a period of markedly reduced volcanic activity centered on 5.5–4.5 ka that was preceded by a major change in atmospheric circulation patterns, expressed in the North Atlantic as a deepening of the Icelandic Low, favoring glacial advance on Iceland. ”

    That study did not find a link between deglaciation and increased seismic activity. They report a link between glacial advance on Iceland preceded a decreased volcanic activity after a cooling of the North Atlantic with 600 year lag. A Subtle but important distinction that is a misuse of the word “conversely.”

    Also Greenland and Antarctic Ice core data suggests the global climate was no cooler than today (1950 ice core data ref year). Copper Age Otzi man died in the Alps around 5400 yr bp.

    Here is the GISP2 data plotted:
    https://i0.wp.com/i90.photobucket.com/albums/k247/dhm1353/Climate%20Change/GISP2_Ljung_HadCRUT_10kya.png

      • I’m not doubting the inferred linkage running the opposite direction, or that other published studies have shown that with data. I just didn’t like the way the writer wrote what the study “found”.
        We have data, those become observations. What inferences we make about data in one study though is where interpretative judgement comes in.

        Believing inferences mean data or fact is a problem throughout science.

      • The mechanism for the linkage in Iceland is straightforward. The weight of the ice on top of some of the low volcanoes serves in the same way as hardened magma plugs in more typical stratovolcanoes. Melting ice decreases pressure allowing for potential explosive decompression and hence eruptions. There’s nothing esoteric about it, but Iceland is relatively unique in the amount of glaciation and types of volcanoes. I’m guessing we’d have a similar but much more explosive situation in western Antarctica if the ice sheet wasn’t so thick

  13. “between 4,500 and 5,500 years ago, when Earth was much cooler than today,”
    Earth was not cooler than today during this time period. What the authors of this paper actually said is as follows.
    “We identify a period of markedly reduced volcanic activity centered on 5.5–4.5 ka that was preceded by a major change in atmospheric circulation patterns, expressed in the North Atlantic as a deepening of the Icelandic Low, favoring glacial advance on Iceland. We calculate an apparent time lag of ∼600 yr between the climate event and change in eruption frequency. Given the time lag identified here, increase in volcanic eruptions due to ongoing deglaciation since the end of the Little Ice Age may not become apparent for hundreds of years.”

  14. > …stress loads on Earth’s crust from periods of drought can, in fact, be significant. …alternating periods of drought and heavy precipitation in the Sierra Nevada between 2011 and 2017 actually caused the mountain range to rise by nearly an inch and then fall by half that amount, as the mountain rocks lost water during the drought and then regained it.

    And they teased this out of plate movement how?

  15. “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts~ctm”

    ???

    Does anyone here know how to start a Go Fund Me page for ctm, to buy him a bicycle helmet to protect his head, the next time he falls off his bar stool, at the Down and Out Saloon, where he moderates this website?

  16. I enjoy SciFi books and movies that are based on about 90% real and 10% we aren’t there yet, but could be later, so we’ll hypothesize it to make the story. The original Jurassic Park books by Michael Crichton were like that. 90% of the science was real, 10% was fiction. Which made the book fiction. Which makes the “climate change” disaster predictions fiction. Only they are based on 10% fact, 90% fiction.

  17. Talk about looking for answers in all the wrong places. While looking in, they should be looking out. Solar intensity changes our atmospheric pressure and the Solar Magnetic Field changes the Magnetic Core of Earth. Planet’s change their orbits as the Solar Minimum and Maximum extremes occur and the variables between them are going to effect our Magnetic Core that effects our Ionosphere as the Earth’s Core changes the Magnetic Poles distence from the Axis Poles. Solar Wind changes how our Atmosphere bulges on the opposite side of our Sun that is caused by how the Solar Wind pushes against the side facing the Sun due to the Solar Intensity and therefore Climate Changes and weather changes. The link between our Ocean Tides and our Moon have been noted for centuries. Ground water and oil is going to be effected in the same way. These fluids are effected no different than our Molten Core holding the Magnetic Core are going to change. These variables are going to have an effect on our Tectonic Plates and Volcanic Activity. If this Solar Minimum persists the Ocean Levels will decrease as the Polar and Mountain Glaciers increases. Changing the weight on our Tectonic Plates. All because of the Solar Intensity changes.

  18. With all those spourious correlations inducing absurd causations, with all those ifs could and may, their assumptions are just as valid as “Jojo rabbit’s farts (may) could cause the World to end”.

  19. There is a wealth of data out there on Earth crusts stress and movement data which is all ignored in this article which reads like some really bad science magazine article. What was the point in publishing this junk?

  20. It is interesting that ‘Geology the field’ does not have an explanation as to what generates the force to move the tectonic plates, before the observation that the frequency of mid-ocean earth quakes increased by 300% to 400% two years before major El Nino events.

    Sure the tectonic plates move.

    The scandal is that geology does not have a ‘force’ to move the plates.

    The dead geology theory to move the tectonic plates is the ‘Mantel Moves Theory” in which it was assumed there must be convection motion in the mantel (as the tectonic plates move) and this convection motion causes the tectonic plates on the surface of the planet to move.

    The observational evidence supports the assertion that that there is no significant convection motion in the mantel period.

    This is supported by theoretical analysis that shows convection motion cannot take place in the mantel and separate theoretical analysis that shows even if there was convection motion in the mantel that dead mechanism cannot generate sufficient force to move the plates.

    The problem is there is no force to move the tectonic plates. The old theory that there are ‘convection’ currents in the mantel and these convection currents moves the surface tectonic plates has been disproved by observations (no observational evidence the mantel moves except when dragged by the tectonic plates that are moving.)

    http://www.davidpratt.info/tecto.htm

    Nitecki et al. (1978) reported that in 1961 only 27% of western geologists accepted plate tectonics, but that during the mid-1960s a “chain reaction” took place, and by 1977 it was embraced by as many as 87%.

    Some proponents of plate tectonics have admitted that a bandwagon atmosphere developed and that data that did not fit into the model were not given sufficient consideration (e.g., Wyllie, 1976), resulting in “a somewhat disturbing dogmatism” (Dott and Batten, 198 1, p. 15 1). McGeary and Plummer (1 998, p. 97) acknowledge that “geologists, like other people, are susceptible to fads.”

    The driving force of plate movements was initially claimed to be mantle deep convection currents welling up beneath midocean ridges, with downwelling occurring beneath ocean trenches. Since the existence of layering in the mantle was considered to render whole-mantle convection unlikely, two layer convection models were also proposed.

    Jeffreys (1974) argued that convection cannot take place because it is a self-damping process, as described by the Lomnitz law.

    Plate tectonicists expected seismic tomography to provide clear evidence of a well-organized convection-cell pattern, but it has actually provided strong evidence against the existence of large, plate-propelling convection cells in the upper mantle (Anderson, Tanimoto, and Zhang, 1992).

    Many geologists now think that mantle convection is a result of plate motion rather than its cause and that it is shallow rather than mantle deep (McGeary and Plummer, 1998).

    Comment: The sudden 300% to 400% increase in mid-ocean earthquake frequency is a hard paradox. That observation absolutely kills the ‘Mantel Moves’ theory as the cause of tectonic plate motion. The mantel moves theory has been disproved by observations. This sudden world wide increase in mid-ocean earthquakes kills the mantel moves theory. The implications are a paradigm shift for geology. There is now evidence that what cause tectonic plate motion can suddenly increase and change.

    Multiple observations have shown the mantel move theory to be a dead theory.

    For example, roughly a decade ago it was discovered that there is observational evidence of massive zones of compress fracturing along the mid-ocean ridges. Compress fracturing is caused by a liquid that is pumped into region which in turn causes ‘compression’ fracturing. Compression fracturing is what makes ‘fraking’ for oil and gas possible along with a pump, pipe, and a liquid that is pumped.

    • “Nitecki et al. (1978) reported that in 1961 only 27% of western geologists accepted plate tectonics, but that during the mid-1960s a “chain reaction” took place, and by 1977 it was embraced by as many as 87%”.

      Errr…there was no plate tectonics in 1961. There were developments from Wegner’s proposal of continental drift but they lacked support as there was no obvious mechanism for it to occur. However the accepted theory of tectonics at the time was somewht laboured and also lacked a mechanism [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geosyncline].
      Better the devil you know…

      Discoveries made during the JOIDES program [Joint Oceanographic Institutions for Deep Earth Sampling ] during the 1960s and 1970s provided evidence for sea floor spreading which developed into the theory of Plate Tectonics. By the late 1970s sufficient pieces of the jigsaw were in place to produce a workable theory.

      So no wonder there were few believers in plate tectonics in 1961…it didn’t exist as a concept

  21. That the melting of a major ice-sheet can cause earthquakes is well established in Scandinavia where there is evidence for several major quakes during and immediately after the melting of the North Europan Ice-sheet, but none for the 10,000+ years since then.

    That the (relatively) fast removal of a couple of kilometers of ice can cause significant movement along existing faults is hardly surprising. Here is an image of the Pärvie fault scarp in Swedish Lapland caused by a quake at the end of the last glaciation:

    http://iugs.org/33igc/fileshare/No_41_photo_a.jpg

    And here is an excellent paper on the subject for those who want to go into details:

    http://resource.sgu.se/produkter/c/c836-rapport.pdf

  22. Earthquakes are an intrinsic factor in the climate. The two are joined at the hip; so looking for an effect begs the question: which one effects the other? We seem to be dancing in circles here.

  23. Weather not climate, a monsoon is a weather event not a climate event.

    With these crazies, weather is weather until its not convenient for it to be weather

  24. There was also a quake at Oroville when the lake was first being filled. I think it was about 1968. Lived about 12 miles away. Felt the shaking. IIRC it was a 5.x range. It was speculated to be caused by the filling and called normal…

  25. Unsure if this is an urban myth but many years ago I was told by a workmate from California that the most successful forecaster of earthquakes in that state was a person who studied the lost animal advertisements in newspapers.

  26. Climate change alarmists claim weather is getting more severe, there are more storms, more drought, more floods, more wind, more heat, more bush fires all due to CO2 driven climate change. Not according to observations. Are we seeing more quakes? Not according to observations.

  27. As far I understand, solar cycles are driven by the planetary tidal forces on the sun. The same tidal forces may as well influence earthquakes.

  28. The truth of the matter is that climate can affect anything you need it to affect and if you put mind to it you will find a way to prove it with data and climate models and the precautionary principle.

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