Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Confirmed: Fracking Triggers Quakes and Seismic Chaos

I haven't been that eager to jump on the bandwagon against fracking, despite the fact that it seems like everyone I know in Ithaca is vehemently opposed to it - perhaps because I simply haven't done enough reading about its dangers. This study reported in Mother Jones, however, seems pretty good proof that fracking can cause local earthquakes, in response to earthquakes far away. Here's part of the article, but read the whole thing at Mother Jones.

Major earthquakes thousands of miles away can trigger reflex quakes in areas where fluids have been injected into the ground from fracking and other industrial operations, according to a study published in the journal Science on Thursday. 
Previous studies, covered in a recent Mother Jones feature from Michael Behar, have shown that injecting fluids into the ground can increase the seismicity of a region. This latest study shows that earthquakes can tip off smaller quakes in far-away areas where fluid has been pumped underground.
Drillers inject high-pressure fluids into a hydraulic fracturing well, making slight fissures in the shale that release natural gas. The wastewater that flows back up with the gas is then transported to disposal wells, where it is injected deep into porous rock. Scientists now believe that the pressure and lubrication of that wastewater can cause faults to slip and unleash an earthquake. 
Illustration: Leanne Kroll. Animation: Brett Brownell

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