Fracking caused Ohio Earthquakes

RT
January 3, 2012

Ohio lawmakers have put a temporary ban on fracking after experts say it is certain that recent fracking in the Buckeye State caused an outbreak of earthquakes.

According to some seismologists, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is to blame for a string of tremors in Ohio, including a 4.0-magnitude quake on New Year’s Eve. It has long been suggested that fracking, which involves deep-earth drilling to extract gas for natural resource reserves, has been culpable for quakes. In the fracking process, wastewater collected during the deep drilling is injected back into the Earth for disposal. Thought to be safe by some, other experts insist that the brine water could find its way into subterranean faults and force parts of the planet to separate. The Youngstown, OH area has seen 11 small quakes since last spring, and now a moratorium has been instated in the area to keep future fracking from occurring while seismologists reinvestigate the quakes.

Even with a stay in place, however, experts say the quakes won’t be stopping anytime soon.

“The earthquakes will trickle on as a kind of a cascading process once you’ve caused them to occur,” John Armbruster of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory tells the Associated Press. “This one year of pumping is a pulse that has been pushed into the ground, and it’s going to be spreading out for at least a year.”

Ray Beiersdorfer, a geology professor at Youngstown State University, adds to the Business Journal, “I wouldn’t be surprised if it continued for a year or so.”

Regulators in Ohio have asked D&L Energy Inc., a company that carries out fracking near Youngstown, to stop injecting waste water back into the Earth while an investigation is opened up. Another quake of 2.7 magnitude occurred on Christmas Eve and prompted state officials to step in less than a week later. Had regulators not recommending the halt, D&L could have continued to operate fracking wells — and only a day before the moratorium was instated they submitted permit applications in hopes of beginning drilling in a residential neighborhood just outside of downtown Youngstown.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says that by D&L injecting wastewater more than 9,000 feet into the Earth, the onslaught of quakes were caused by human action. Officials in other areas of Ohio area considering stopping drilling in the interim as well.

In all, there are 177 wells used by fracking operations in the state.

The D&L company first began their own drilling in December 2010 and seismologists say the fracking has yielded nearly a dozen quakes as a result so far. Since fracking began in all of Ohio in 1985, around seven million barrels of wastewater have been injected in the Earth.

“We fully support the decision of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to issue a temporary suspension of five injection wells in the Youngstown area,” Thomas E. Stewart of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association adds to the Business Journal. “It was the correct course of action to ensure the safety and peace of mind for area residents.”

Fracking is Likely Cause of Virginia Earthquake

Earthquakes induced by human activity have been documented in a few locations in the United States, Japan and Canada,” writes the USGS. “The cause was injection of fluids into deep wells for waste disposal and secondary recovery of oil and the use of reservoirs for water supplies.”

RT
August 25, 2011

Experts are looking for a reason behind Tuesday afternoon’s unlikely 5.8 magnitude earthquake that shook people up and down the East Coast, and some are saying that a recent rise in fracking could be the culprit.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is the man-made splintering of underground rocks to expedite the exploiting of natural resources. It’s become a widespread phenomenon since its introduction in 2004, and though the practice can help increase supplies of oil and gas without reaching out internationally for imports, the result it can have on the geological make-up of the Earth can be ravaging. Now some experts say the rise in fracking could be to blame for yesterday’s quake.

The odds of a quake exceeding a magnitude of 5.5 occurring in central Virginia are so slim that Dominion Power determined only around six quakes of that size would occur in the area over the next 10,000 years. Dominion was looking at building a third nuclear reactor at their power plant in North Anna, VA, where facilities had to be taken offline yesterday as a result of the quake. Despite predicting that the site would be scarcely affected ever by a tremor, the quake’s epicenter was only mere miles from the nuclear facility.

Dominion, which confirmed in February that it will be building a third reactor for the plant, was rated by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission as the seventh most-likely site to receive damage from a quake, taking into consideration the 100-plus plants from coast-to-coast. Even still, the plant had its earthquake-sensing seismographs removed in the 1990s in order to save money.

When sites are subjected to fracking, waste salt water is injected back into the earth once fractures are created; in some cases, as many as 3 million gallons of the waste can be put into the earth in each well. Though earthquakes out east are unlikely, Braxton County West Virginia, only 160 miles from the epicenter of Tuesday’s tremor, has seen eight minor movements in 2010 alone. That site has also seen a slew of fracking operations in the several years before it.

Explicitly, the United States Geological Survey has published a finding confirming that processes like fracking can be to blame for “natural” disasters. “Earthquakes induced by human activity have been documented in a few locations in the United States, Japan and Canada,” writes the USGS. “The cause was injection of fluids into deep wells for waste disposal and secondary recovery of oil and the use of reservoirs for water supplies.”

Out West, geologists have blamed fracking on earthquakes that unexpectedly shook up the state of Arkansas, which recently saw over 20 small tremors in a single day. Freak earthquakes have also occurred in regions of Texas, New York and Oklahoma that should not be likely sites of epicenters, though those locales have all seen a rise in fracking in recent years.

Multi-stage fracking, which can drill several miles deep in the Earth, has only become prevalent in recent years. Once introduced, however, Arkansas, West Virginia and Texas all saw an unexpected increase in quakes across the region.  The correlation has caused concern in other parts of the country, including West Virginia, where residents are asking lawmakers to reconsider the legality of fracking, which can not only cause earthquakes but is overall detrimental to the local ecosystem. One incident in central Virginia occurred in 2008 when fracking caused an explosion of a natural gas pipeline that created a fireball that stretched up to half a mile long and tall and injured five people.

Mineral, VA, the site of Tuesday’s quake’s epicenter, is only 90 miles from the West Virginia border, where activists are rallying to change the lax state legislation which has caused companies to conduct fracking operations more and more and recent years.

Extreme Super (Full) Moon to Cause Chaos?

Accuweather.com
Mar 1, 2011

Coming up later this month (March 19 to be exact) the moon will make its closest approach to Earth (called lunar perigee) in 18 years. A new or full moon at 90% or greater of its closest perigee to Earth has been named a “SuperMoon” by astrologer Richard Nolle. This term has been recently picked up by astronomers. An extreme “SuperMoon” is when the moon is full or new as well as at its 100% greater mean perigee (closest) distance to earth. By this definition, last month’s full moon, this month’s and next month’s will all be extreme “SuperMoons”.

Please visit Richard’s website by clicking here.

I have read several “new age” forecasts that go something like this: “Extreme SuperMoon this month (March 2011) will bring strong earthquakes and storms and/or unusual climate patterns.” Google the term ‘extreme SuperMoon March 2011’ and see for yourself what comes up. The validity of these types of forecasts can be debated ad nauseum.

There were SuperMoons in 1955, 1974, 1992 and 2005. These years had their share of extreme weather and other natural events. Is the Super Moon and these natural occurences a coincidence? Some would say yes; some would say no. I’m not here to pick sides and say I’m a believer or non-believer in subjects like this, but as a scientist I know enough to ask questions and try to find answers.

We obviously know that there are scientific laws that say the moon affects the Earth (i.e. tides). There are also less proven theories that propose that the moon affects the Earth in other ways (i.e. abnormal behavior during a full moon). Can the Super (full) Moon contribute to extreme weather and other natural phenomenon?

AccuWeather Facebook fanpage member Daniel Vogler adds, “The last extreme super moon occurred was on January 10th, 2005, right around the time of the 9.0 Indonesia earthquake. That extreme super moon was a new moon. So be forewarned. Something BIG could happen on or around this date. (+/- 3 Days is my guess)”

So what can we expect this time? Earthquakes? Volcanic eruptions? I guess we can only wait and see.

AccuWeather Facebook Fanpage member Daniel Vogler both contributed and inspired this blog. Many thanks go out to him. If there are further questions about this subject, please bring them up and I will make sure they get directed to him since I will unashamedly say he knows more about this subject than I do. I just wanted to bring this subject matter up to see what people think.

Please join the AccuWeather Astronomy fanpage by clicking here. You can leave your comments there as well and be part of a discussion on this or any other astronomy subject.