Could Natural Gas Drilling Cause Earthquakes?

Johnny - posted on 03/17/2011 ( 8 moms have responded )

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http://www.canadianbusiness.com/markets/...

Since people are looking for things to freak out about. Here is something a little closer to home. Do you think it is possible that our increasing drilling for natural gas, oil, and water in aquifers could destabilize the earth's crust and cause earthquakes?

8 Comments

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Tara - posted on 03/18/2011

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Yes and it's already happening.
Check this link
http://www.earthworksaction.org/fracturi...

Fracking causes earthquakes

Induced seismicity, or earthquakes caused by human activities, can be caused by development of hydrocarbon, mineral, and geothermal resources, waste injection, water filling large surface reservoirs, underground nuclear explosions and large-scale construction projects.[1]

Scientists have documented direct connections between earthquakes and both oil and gas extraction and waste-water injection.

Moreover, several studies demonstrate that hydraulic fracturing induces microearthquakes and that the analysis of these microearthquakes can be useful in understanding fracture zones and reservoir production rates.[2]

Recently, earthquakes have occurred more frequently in areas experiencing increased hydraulic fracturing.

Concerns of fracking-impacted communities

Oil and gas-field communities in Colorado, Texas and elsewhere are increasingly concerned about the role that hydraulic fracturing plays in induced seismicity in their communities. Concerns include:

* immediate safety threats;
* environmental and property damage;
* how best to plan for oil and gas infrastructure (such as pipelines, processing plants, compressor stations and wells) in areas that may see increased seismic activity of a broad magnitude.

Most oil and gas-field infrastructure do not have specific earthquake design standards. In most cases operators must take practicable steps to ensure interstate pipeline infrastructure (e.g. large transportation pipelines) can withstand anticipated hazards.

Earthquakes and pipelines

In the case of transportation pipelines: materials for pipe and components must be able to maintain the structural integrity of the pipeline under temperature and other environmental conditions that may be anticipated; pipe must be designed with sufficient wall thickness, or must be installed with adequate protection, to withstand anticipated external pressures and loads that will be imposed on the pipe after installation; and the operator must take all practicable steps to protect each transmission line or main from washouts, floods, unstable soil, landslides, or other hazards that may cause the pipeline to move or to sustain abnormal loads.[3]

Little attention has been paid to the potential impacts to other exploration and production infrastructure from earthquakes or microearthquakes.

Scary scary shit.

Jodi - posted on 03/18/2011

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Tracey, I can see the logic in blaming the mining for the earthquake. I question whether it is the mining causing them, or whether the fact that it may be an earthquake "zone" means it HAS greater energy resources. Or whether the mining of these energy resources is contributing to the earthquakes. To be honest, it would be interesting looking at the statistics of the various locations, with layover maps of those regions high in seismic activity and those regions high in oil and gas exploration and mining. It would STILL only be correlation, however, and it would be pure speculation as to which was the chicken and which was the egg......

ME - posted on 03/18/2011

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Unfortunately, we probably won't know until after it's too late...and, since we do know that this drilling is poisoning our water, air, etc...perhaps we should VERY quickly find some other way to power our world...

Sneaky - posted on 03/18/2011

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Sorry, I should add that that was mostly a response to Jodi's post about Australia being mostly geologically stable :o)

Jocelyn - posted on 03/18/2011

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I don't think so. I live in Alberta (dirty oil sands and all :P ) and we don't get earthquakes.

Though I can see it being a contributing factor when they're drilling where the fault lines are unstable

Jodi - posted on 03/18/2011

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Well, given Australia has a large natural oil and gas supply, I question it, because earthquakes here are few and far between. I'm going with natural causes.



Or is it likely that areas that are prone to earthquakes have a greater likelihood of being rich with oil and natural gas??

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