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Earth Power Technology

Earthquakes That May Be Related To Fracking Close Ohio Oil Well 299

Frosty P writes "State leaders have ordered that four fluid-injection wells ('fracking') in eastern Ohio will be indefinitely prohibited from opening in the aftermath of heightened seismic activity in the area, an official said. A 4.0-magnitude quake struck Saturday afternoon near several wells that use 'fracking' to release oil deposits. It was the 11th in a series of minor earthquakes in the area."
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Earthquakes That May Be Related To Fracking Close Ohio Oil Well

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  • Anti-fracking goal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gedankenhoren ( 2001086 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:00AM (#38563126)
    And now the goals, for anti-fracking advocates, are:

    (1) to identify features in this area's geology that appear contributive to the earthquakes. To wit:
    "Dr. Won-Young Kim, one of the Columbia University experts asked by the state to examine possible connections between fracking and seismic activity, said that a problem could arise if fluid moves through the ground and affects 'a weak fault, waiting to be triggered.'"

    (2) start fear-mongering re "weak fault[s], waiting to be triggered" a la doomsday flicks, since obviously carcinogens leeching to the water supply aren't sufficiently frightening; maybe sudden catastrophe is more convincing than a slow wasting.
  • Frack the Big One! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:02AM (#38563128)

    Won't be long now till someone discovers that fracking might help turning the Big One pending into several minor quakes, and starts selling this idea.

  • by Frequency Domain ( 601421 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:20AM (#38563244)
    I can understand not wanting carcinogens pumped into the water table, but the earthquake aspect seems like a non-issue to me as long as they're small. If small earthquakes are triggered, it means stresses in the fault lines were already present and are being relieved. Having a number of small earthquakes seems preferable to letting the stress build up until it triggers a large quake.
  • Re:This seems... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wisty ( 1335733 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:32AM (#38563324)

    Yeah, but can you prove that the small fraking-caused quakes didn't release stress that would have caused a much more dangerous larger magnitude quake?

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:32AM (#38563332) Journal

    I'm not sure about the effect of fracking on seismic activity, but I think correlation is all we will have to infer causation as we cannot directly monitor the changes in strain which lead to seismic conditions. I would expect that the USGS would have the data for the areas where wells have been drilled, and that a study could be done to determine the probabalistic model variation, but I have not heard of such a study.

    As for contamination, are the fracking fluids spiked with dye trace to be able to determine if suspected contamination occurs (and there always is some suspicion, even if there is no actual)? I don't know anything about the regulations on fracking, so I don't know if such a tracer is required. They are used quite frequently in groundwater migration applications.

  • Bs (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:33AM (#38563336)

    They have been fracking in Michigan for over 20 years and the only problems have been near home with poorly constructed wells. As for the contamination from drilling fluid, people need to realize that the same drilling fluid is used to drill your homes well. The material consists of pulverized dry clay, if it's a carcinogen then you shouldn't let your kids play in the sand box or with modeling clay. And yes I used to drill for a living at a geotechnical engineering company.

  • Re:This seems... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slasher999 ( 513533 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:56AM (#38563538)

    I pay in the neighborhood of 27% of my salary each year in taxes. If I sell a few stocks that I made some money on, add to that the capital gains taxes and I'm closing in on 30%. I think I pay enough in taxes thank you very much.

  • Re:This seems... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sco08y ( 615665 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @12:44PM (#38563990)

    Yeah, but can you prove that the small fraking-caused quakes didn't release stress that would have caused a much more dangerous larger magnitude quake?

    This kind of nonsense is why people don't take environmentalists seriously.

    It's completely impossible to prove that we're not somehow influencing larger quakes because we can't possibly get a baseline for the typical magnitude of larger quakes. And even if we could somehow get that, they vary in intensity by orders of magnitude, and the big ones are decades apart.

    These types of arguments are intended to throw up one roadblock after another to extracting energy. The motivations of the originators of these arguments aren't care for the earth, but a loathing of humanity and prosperity.

  • Re:This seems... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @12:55PM (#38564108)

    I do not give a shit if it is causing Magnitude 4 earthquakes.
    4s are nothing. If it was causing 5.5s or 6s I would worry, but 4s?
    I'll take 3 4s a day for cheaper gas.

  • Re:why is it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ( 843637 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @12:59PM (#38564146)

    And ppl do not understand why I WANT us to continue drilling all over USA. I figure that once Americans start to get earthquakes, polluted waters esp. in our aquifiers, and see the repercussions of this 'clean' source of jobs, then MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, we will finally figure out that we need to change our policy. And I can not think of anything that would be better then to get the west off imported energy (other than to add that we quit importing bad goods and food from china).

    I can. It's the reason that every country with half a brain and a little foresight would want to import all oil:

    1. Import all oil, pay increasing prices (it's worth it)
    2. Use/maintain local refinement infrastructure
    3. Drain world of said oil (this is actually going to take a long time, long after everyone currently alive is dead)
    4. Tap local wells, sell oil to foreign entities at insane prices
    5. Hope alternative fuels haven't become viable
    In essence: use everyone else's before using your own.

    What the US public needs to do is revolve before #3 happens (nationalize resources) so that -they- can recoup the money they've spent on all the other oil.

  • Re:This seems... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by St.Creed ( 853824 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @01:36PM (#38564444)

    Not sure which invasion you mean, unless you mean the one that was stopped in Austria a few centuries ago.

    For The Netherlands, which is not completely representative of Europe but still close, the number of immigrants from Muslim countries has declined by 60% since 2003. Most migration nowadays is from new EU countries such as Romania and Bulgaria.

    The banking cartels aren't destroying Germany, they're part of the state structure.

    What *is* happening is that social gains are under assault. But not due to any invasions, or banking troubles, but because the banking crisis is the symptom of a much bigger issue, which is a classic capitalist overinvestment crisis. The onliest way in which profit growth can be maintained is by squeezing the workers. So that will happen.

    Muslims provide easy scapegoats. However, Muslims are not the main issue at all. We are talking about pension funds that should hold billions of dollars. I fail to see how adding a few percentage points in population will bring down that system.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 02, 2012 @01:55PM (#38564614)

    I've got caviar stuck in my braces! []

    I really don't understand why someone like yourself - a person who lives in splendor undreamt of by most humans who ever lived - is unwilling to contribute to your community's well-being when that community is clearly in need.

    Now, if you said "I don't think I should pay more taxes than people with ten times my wealth" I'd totally agree with you. But that's not what you said.

    If you said "I don't want to pay for invading other countries and subsidizing rich bankster's lifestyles" I could understand that too. But you didn't say that either.

    As I see it, you're wealthy enough to own stock, but you don't want to pay for the system that makes your wealth possible. Somebody's got to pay for it, but you want it to be someone else. You have enormous wealth and enjoy many privileges, yet you honestly think you're being oppressed. You personify our economic problem; you're barely one step above a welfare queen.

  • Re:This seems... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @02:30PM (#38564856) Homepage

    Yeah, but can you prove that the small fraking-caused quakes didn't release stress that would have caused a much more dangerous larger magnitude quake?

    That is a potentially valid response to someone who wants to use the cost of the quake damage as the absolute measure of liability.

    The other significant question is whether the small scale quakes are indicative of changes we are making to the Earth's crust which we do not fully understand. Six months ago there were a lot of scientists in the industry saying that fracking had no relationship with quakes. Then they said yes, but they're tiny, almost imperceptible, like under 3.0. Now it's 4.0, but maybe it's a good thing.

    It seems pretty apparent that the answers are not yet in, and there are a lot of industry scientists that have been arriving at estimates that are on the low side of subsequent data, which happens to be the same side the private profit motive.

    Just canaries in a coal mine, of course -- correlation does not imply causation any more than a dead canary implies toxic atmosphere.

  • by uvajed_ekil ( 914487 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @03:43PM (#38565430)
    Great idea! My house is 100+ years old, as are the houses of several of my friends and family, and all of us live less than 50 miles from the wells in question. And we are not alone. So how are building codes going to help us? And don't say "just get a new house." I wouldn't be able to purchase a new house if my old one were worthless. Besides, the engineer I had inspect it before moving in said there is no reason it shouldn't be good for another 100 years. Why throw away EVERY building built in the last 100+ years in Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania just so some idiots can pollute the earth? We're talking about a region with several million residents, not NW Montana. Silly.

We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids? -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission