Ohio Geologists Link Small Quakes To Fracking

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Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas that are among the nation’s strictest.

A state investigation of five small tremors last month in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, found the injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica Shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault, said State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers. He called the link “probable.”

While earlier studies had linked earthquakes in the same region to deep-injection wells used for disposal of fracking wastewater, this marks the first time tremors in the region have been tied directly to fracking, Simmers said. The five seismic events in March couldn’t be easily felt by people.

The oil and gas drilling boom targets widely different rock formations around the nation, so the Ohio findings may not have much relevance to other areas other than perhaps influencing public perception of fracking’s safety. The types of quakes connected to the industry are generally small and not easily felt, but the idea of human activity causing the earth to shake often doesn’t sit well.

The state says the company that set off the Ohio quakes was following rules and appeared to be using common practices. It just got unlucky, Simmers said.

Gerry Baker, associate executive director of the Interstate Oil and Gas Commission, said state regulators across the nation will study the Ohio case for any implications for the drilling industry. A consortium of states has already begun discussions.

Fracking involves pumping huge volumes of water, sand and chemicals underground to split open rocks to allow oil and gas to flow. Improved technology has allowed energy companies to gain access to huge stores of natural gas but has raised widespread concerns that it might lead to groundwater contamination — and, yes, earthquakes.

A U.S. government report released in 2012 found that two worldwide instances of shaking can be attributed to actual extraction of oil and gas, as opposed to wastewater disposal in the ground — a magnitude-2.8 quake in Oklahoma and a magnitude-2.3 quake in England. Both were in 2011.

The report didn’t mention quakes in British Columbia’s Horn River Basin between 2009 and 2011 also tied to fracking. Those led to stricter regulations, which one study showed had little effect on the pace or volume of drilling.

Written By: Julie Carr Smyth
continue to source article at time.com

11 COMMENTS

  1. I’d heard stories about the dangers of fracking but until now knew next to nothing about the technology.

    It’s heart-breaking to see couples, who’ve doubtless made huge efforts to realize their retirement home in such beautiful surroundings, dumped on by a corporate like that.

    And their situation is definitely not helped by having greedy creeps in their local authorities who will sell out them and their towns for a “lousy buck”.

    Who thinks this needs to go viral? I’ll certainly do my bit in that regard.

  2. World must end ‘dirty’ fuel use – UN – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27008352

    A long-awaited UN report on how to curb climate change says the world must rapidly move away from carbon-intensive fuels.

    There must be a “massive shift” to renewable energy, says the 33-page study released in Berlin.

    It has been finalised after a week of negotiations between scientists and government officials.

    Natural gas is seen as a key bridge to move energy production away from oil and coal.

    But there have been battles between participants over who will pay for this energy transition.

    The report is the work of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was set up to provide a clear scientific view on climate change and its impacts.

    The Summary for Policymakers on mitigation paints a picture of a world with carbon emissions rising rapidly.

    “The high speed mitigation train need to leave the station very soon, and all of global society will have to get on board,” the IPCC’s chair Rajendra Pachauri told journalists in Berlin at the launch of the report.

    Dr Youba Sokono, a co-chair of the IPCC’s working group 3, which drew up the report, said science has spoken.
    Natural gas is seen as a key bridge to move energy production away from oil and coal.

    Gas is less polluting than coal and oil, but still generates lots of CO2. Fracking also leaks methane.

    But there have been battles between participants over who will pay for this energy transition.

    The report is the work of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was set up to provide a clear scientific view on climate change and its impacts.

    The Summary for Policymakers on mitigation paints a picture of a world with carbon emissions rising rapidly.

    “The high speed mitigation train need to leave the station very soon, and all of global society will have to get on board,” the IPCC’s chair Rajendra Pachauri told journalists in Berlin at the launch of the report.

    Dr Youba Sokono, a co-chair of the IPCC’s working group 3, which drew up the report, said science has spoken.

    He added that policy makers were “the navigators, they have to make decisions, scientists are the map makers”.

    The UK’s Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey told Sky News: “This is a stark warning that the world is looking down the precipice if we don’t take action now.”

    He added that the UK government was “leading the way” in Europe in encouraging the use of renewable energy sources, saying: “We’ve got to do a lot more and the world’s got to do a lot more.”

    About half of all the carbon that humans have pumped into the atmosphere since 1750 has been emitted in the last 40 years.

    Rates have been rising fast since 2000, despite the global economic crash.

    Analysis Adam Fleming

    The Energy Secretary Ed Davey reckons the government doesn’t get the credit it deserves for delivering an ambitious green agenda: Investing in renewables, co-operating internationally to cut carbon and building lots of wind farms.

    He is good at posturing and generating “wind” and hot air to mislead the voters, ignoringthe UK importing goods from dirty production in China etc. and the large UK subsidies for oil exploration and gas-fracking.

    The problem is that there are a few things that a sizeable chunk of Tory backbenchers simply cannot stomach, namely: Subsidies, Europe and – err – building lots of wind farms.

    Behind the rhetoric and dodgy claims, there are plenty of Tory climate-change deniers and obstructive muppets like Pickles!

    Maybe that’s why the Chancellor has come up with a formula which he hopes will satisfy both sides – that Britain can go green but it has to be done as cheaply as possible.

    And what about David Cameron? The PM is famously alleged to have said he wanted to “cut the green crap” but that has always been strenuously denied by Downing Street, and he made a passionate plea to tackle climate change during a session of Prime Minister’s Questions earlier this year.

    The report points to an increased use of coal in the decade from the turn of the millennium , “reversing the longstanding trend of decarbonisation of the world’s energy supply”.

    Driven by a global increase in population and economic activity, global surface temperature increases will be between 3.7C and 4.8C in 2100 if no new action is taken.

    ….

    It is not a simple task. To be sure of staying below 2 degrees, the amount of carbon in the air needs to be around 450 parts per million by 2100. To get there, emissions in 2050 need to be 40-70% lower than they were in 2010.

    The IPCC says that renewables are a critical part of that pathway.

    Since the last report in 2007, the scientists say that renewable energy has come on in leaps and bounds.

    In 2012, renewables accounted for just over half of the new electricity generation added around the world.

    The scientists stress that renewables are becoming economically competitive with fossil fuels and also offer a range of other benefits, including clean air and energy security.

    “It certainly is the end for carbon intensive fuels that’s for sure,” said Jennifer Morgan from the World Resources Institute, who was a review editor on one of the chapters of the IPCC report.

    **”There needs to be a massive shift away from fossil fuels and investment needs to shift to going 100% clean as fast as possible.” **

    Analysis David Shukman – Science editor, BBC News

    The authors do acknowledge the challenge of switching away from carbon-intense energy – in other words, there’s no free lunch. They also admit that there’s no silver bullet either, pointing out that renewable sources still need subsidies and capturing carbon dioxide from power stations is unproven on an industrial scale.

    And environmentalists will not like one suggestion that many governments will welcome as pragmatic: that gas could replace coal as a “bridging technology” to reduce emissions over the next few decades.

    Because of the sponsored denialist prevarication and failure to invest in thorium nuclear and other green technologies, we are faced with the oil companies who prevaricated profiting from a cobbled together use of gas to bridge the gap for developing and building the green generation system. It also looks as if the coal industry is to get its dubious carbon-capture systems, so carbon-capture and gas-fracking, look like generating lots of environmental problems for future generations, as governments cobble together cheap short-termist stop-gaps!

    • All very good points Alan and I agree with the vast majority of them. However, once again no one is addressing the sacred elephant in the room- namely that there are just too many people on this planet. Our whole society is based on “growth” in one form or another.
      Every Scientist- nay even lay Scientist, should realize perpetual growth on a finite planet is simply unsustainable. It’s as simple as that! It is an issue that never gets addressed.

      Taking care of unbridled and unsustainable consumerism and population growth would take care of many of the the energy shortages, pollution and associated climate change issues. In fact I would suggest, from our current number of 7 billion people on the planet and growing, in the long term policies should be encouraged to half that number over the next 75-100 years. ( Ok, I admit I pulled that number out of thin air.)

      More specifically, there is still a lot that can be done to reduce our current consumption of energy by designing homes from materials and processes (heating, cooling, lighting) that use significantly less amounts of energy than the vast majority of the existing ones. But that of course would require a large investment in replacing the existing housing infrastructure, and would be greatly resisted by NIMBY types and those wanting to protect “heritage” buildings. Basically, as a society we are still not taking full advantage of rapid advancements in building materials and increased efficiencies in the associated environmental comfort and control systems. The technology is there, but it is not being implemented en-mass. We can’t even agree on simple Wind Farms ffs! It also doesn’t help when people take the attitude “it’s not my responsibility, it’s the government’s” and wait for the “handout- subsidy” to change their lethargic and wasteful ways.

      Change always has to come from with-in and not from governments. The only mandate a government has, is to get re-elected, and if the masses don’t demand change by abrogating their responsibility to the government, nothing is going to change. Anything governments or similar bureaucracies spew forth, is nothing but pandering to maintain the status-quo and keep them and their way of life in power. jcw

      In reply to #6 by Alan4discussion:

      World must end ‘dirty’ fuel use – UN – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27008352

      A long-awaited UN report on how to curb climate change says the world must rapidly move away from carbon-intensive fuels.

      There must be a “massive shift” to renewable energy, says the 33-page study releas…

      • In reply to #8 by kaiserkriss:

        All very good points Alan and I agree with the vast majority of them. However, once again no one is addressing the sacred elephant in the room- namely that there are just too many people on this planet. Our whole society is based on “growth” in one form or another.

        That is indeed a key point which has been made in various earlier discussions. Unfortunately we need to keep stressing it in the face of media and political glorification of “economic growth”, where we should be planning for “sustainable developments”!

        More specifically, there is still a lot that can be done to reduce our current consumption of energy by designing homes from materials and processes (heating, cooling, lighting) that use significantly less amounts of energy than the vast majority of the existing ones. But that of course would require a large investment in replacing the existing housing infrastructure,

        Much needs to be done in regulating new builds.- Low carbon building – Carbon neutral building – Wikipedia

        Although modifications like loft and cavity wall insulation, LED lights, photvoltaic and solar thermal panels, ground source heat storage, and general reductions of waste, can up-grade existing buildings.

        There were lots of links to green technologies on climate discussion on the old RDFS site which is now defunct.

        There are plenty of power-generation systems which could already be more widely available if politicians were not dragging their feet! -

        Thorium nuclear, tidal-turbines sharing lines with off-shore wind turbines, tidal barrages, solar thermal heat-storage 24/7 power-towers and parabolic reflectors in sunny climates, bio-fuels, hydroelectric, and a few others which can work in special situations – such as solar cookers in the tropics.

  3. The arguments here remind me very much of the early debates (before the evidence was overwhelming) about cancer and smoking and climate change. The people who use science and reason don’t have enough evidence to say with strong certainty (in a scientific sense) that there is a demonstrated causal link but the initial evidence is very strong. For example, there are places in Oklahoma that have never had earthquakes in all of recorded history. Zero. Nada. Zilch. And those places have had repeated earthquakes since fracking started. The quakes are fairly small by the standards of say California where things are designed to withstand earthquakes but because the buildings aren’t designed that way in Oklahoma and because there have been several quakes in a row they are causing serious damage, not to mention all the other problems of polluted water, tap water that can start on fire, etc.

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