Scientists were swarming around central Oklahoma last week planting seismometers and digging through records in an effort to answer the question of the moment: Did oil and gas fracking cause last week’s unnervingly strong earthquakes?
On the face of it, it seems ridiculous that the small amount of activity involved in drilling a well could unleash the vast energy that shook the ground across seven states. The tremors might, in fact, turn out to be purely natural events.
Ridiculous is it? Does not seem so to me, but then I only study earthquakes so what do I know? I mean the gas people know that drilling does not cause earthquakes!
I like the picture of a ‘swarm’ of scientists however ineffective it may be. Guess we can look forward to another oil/gas industry whitewash then.
They want to see if any of the recent activity can be traced to a man-made cause.
“We are very much interested in answering that question,” said Art McGarr, a seismologist at the USGS’s western center in Menlo Park, Calif. and an expert on man-made earthquakes.
He said the agency hopes to have a preliminary answer within a couple weeks. The National Academy of Sciences is studying the seismic effects of energy drilling and mining and will issue a report next spring.
Not exactly in a tearing hurry then!
Kevin White, senior vice president of SandRidge Energy, an Oklahoma City company with nearly a million acres of leases in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas, said he didn’t think the issues has much application to Kansas. The oil-bearing formation in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas, the Mississippian limestone, is different than the shale formations that have generated much of the earthquake concerns. Their wastewater goes into a formation called the Arbuckle in virtually unlimited quantities without increasing the pressure.
“It’s a 1,000 feet thick and it just takes the water like a sponge,” White said.
Nail that one to that person’s headstone! Yes soaks it up and spits it out again later. Nothing can soak up water and retain it for ever. It will come out and it will contaminate wide areas.
The reference at the end to producing a Mag 5.0 was where the USGS were playing with injection turning earthquakes off and on as an experiment. If they can produce a Mag 5.0 experimentally you can rest assured that lubricating a fault line can do the same.