In the past few years, scientists have linked an oil-and-gas industry practice, called wastewater injection, to increased earthquakes in normally quiet places like Oklahoma and Texas. Now, a new study says wastewater injection could make American Midwest faults more vulnerable even to major seismic activity halfway around the world.
The study linked three major earthquakes outside the U.S. to mid-size shakers near injection sites in Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado. Here's one example: The study found that the enormous earthquake that devastated eastern Japan in March 2011 triggered a swarm of quakes—the largest was magnitude 4.3—near Snyder, Texas. The study also found a distant trigger for the Prague, Oklahoma, quakes that we've covered before.
Now, causes and effects are pretty important here, so let's break down the implications.
- Scientists already know that wastewater injection occasionally triggers small local quakes. That doesn't mean that all wastewater injection triggers quakes. Most of the U.S.' 30,000-some wastewater injection wells never experience earthquakes. However, some do.
- Wastewater injection has increased in the U.S. in recent decades because it's a comparatively quick, cheap way to dispose of waste fluids from oil and gas drilling. Since companies began doing it more often, U.S. Geological Survey and other scientists have noticed more earthquakes occurring in the Midwest, which isn't normally so seismically active. Three different geologists told me this, unprompted, when I was researching the Prague quakes earlier this year.
Not all Midwest quakes are necessarily related to human activity, as the area does have faults and has hosted natural earthquakes in the past. However, the uptick does seem to be injection-related.
- Earthquakes of magnitude 8.0 and higher send big shockwaves all over Earth. In the past, scientists have concluded that such major quakes are able to trigger distant, naturally weak faults. Now, a team of geologists from Columbia University and the University of Oklahoma have determined that the same thing can also happen to faults that people have artificially weakened through drilling activities.
- Injection-triggered earthquakes are usually small, magnitude 1 or 2, and barely perceptible to townsfolk nearby. When Prague, Oklahoma, was hit by two earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 and higher in 2011, researchers debated whether those quakes were injection-triggered. A peer-reviewed study said they were; the Oklahoma Geological Survey, which hasn't yet published their conclusions formally, said they weren't.
This latest study finds some evidence that those severer quakes may be injection-triggered. At least half of the magnitude 5.4 and higher earthquakes in the Midwest occurred near wastewater injection wells, the Columbia-Oklahoma team found by analyzing earthquake records
This and similar studies could help scientists better predict when and where human activity-triggered earthquakes will occur. In the examples the Columbia and University of Oklahoma researchers analyzed, a big, overseas earthquake preceded a swarm of small quakes around certain wastewater injection sites. Then, months later, a larger quake would hit where the swarm occurred. A swarm could serve as a warning and risk factor for a large quake later, Nicholas Van der Elst, a seismologist at Columbia who worked on the new study, told Nature.
At the same time, there's more to learn. Quakes also occur near injection sites without a warning swarm, Nature reports.
The new study appeared yesterday in the journal Science, which also published two other studies on human activity that triggers earthquakes. One study looked at earthquakes triggered by a geothermal project in southern California. Another reviewed previous studies of waterwater injection and fracking-related quakes.
Hmm. Anyone here that skies aware of "avalanche control", or any foresters/farmers done a "controlled burn"?
Set off the avalanches while they're smaller to ensure they don't get huge and kill someone. Burn a field of brush that you can get a perimeter around, so that it doesn't contribute to a forest fire.
I don't know about anyone else, but I'd rather suffer a bunch of tiny tremors, and several 3.0-5.0 earthquakes than one or two 6.0-8.0 quakes. That pent-up energy isn't going anywhere. Premature releases by definition will be more pleasant that the alternative - statistically if not universally.
Just another plus to fracking I guess.
You may not think of the midwest being an earthquake hot zone but you'd be wrong.
Look up the The 1811–1812 New Madrid earthquakes. A series of four earthquakes in the magnitude 7-8 range, powerful enough to cause the mississippi to run backwards and ring church bells as far as boston.
People don't often think about it because there was little loss of life or damage simply because the regen was rather unpopulated. If the quakes happened today things would be much more disastrous.
Big earthquakes are rather devastating but small ones are benign. The stresses inside of the earth build up until they are released. A continual procession of small quakes is far better than a few large ones. I say inject away.
"May" being the operative word.
Likely a 100% fabrication and zero percent scientific but the operative word nonetheless.
Popsci cut the crap will ya??? Climate change, cities under 25 feet of water, catastrophic storms, now earthquakes. What's next the sky is falling? Did man cause the recent impacts in Russia too??? Are we going to bring doom to our planet from too much space exploration? You guys are a bunch of morons ya know that? Total fear mongering idiots! It's called "Earth's natural processes". Who's to say that from the 20,000(!!!!) locations that there aren't "SOME" natural small earthquakes?????? Do you mean to tell me that if we never did any wastewater injection there would be NO earthquakes at all????? get your head out of your liberal pansy asses and do some real science reporting!!! I'm sick of this crap you put on here!
Today's magic is tomorrow's technology.
@GGenua Yo dog disagree with the article all you want but keep it civil. Things like calling people pansy asses, morons or idiots could get you banned. Think, if you owned a website would you allow guests to stay who called you such things?
I don't really give a rats ass ad. The owners of this website are a bunch of retarded, liberal, unscientific, biased jerks that have ever had the PRIVALIGE to have a voice that they do nothing but abuse! And the day I get banned will be the day I pop open a nice expensive bottle of champagne. Do you think I get my science here? lmao.... I been coming to this site for nearly four years and reading popsci magazine since I was a kid. They've turned this place and their magazine into a joke. Do something... read some headlines on any news site you like. Look for a controversial story, something that liberals care about, then come here on the same or next day at the latest, and see them spout their opinion about it. This isn't a science magazine. It's a liberal news outlet. And I'm not even strictly conservative. My beliefs are based on what I like or what is proven to me, NOT what my political or social orientation is. I don't even believe in that. I don't think I know anyone who believes all liberal or all conservative. But this site has to stick it's nose into every hot liberal topic in existence. If it's Liberal, it's on popsci. I been calling them morons and idiots and POOPSCI for the last two years. And I'm not the only one constantly complaining about their non science liberal biases. There are many that feel like me. But these degenerates don't give a crap about science and the legitimacy of a scientific magazine. All they care about is their propaganda. And the only reason I keep coming back here is out of habit. They will do me a favor when they ban me cuz then I can concentrate on real science magazines who don't abuse their voice. Science Daily, Discover Magazine, Space.com, Comsos, Scientific American, National Geographic. Those are all examples of REAL science magazines and sites that, although discuss controversial issues, they do not specialize in them like this place. They have more real science stories in one day than this place has in a week. And why? Because their too busy sticking their nose in the news of the day. The political news. Go back and count the stories on global warming, Obama, etc, .... and they don't just tell a story as a neutral observer like a science magazine should, they go out of their way to show how they lean. Go ahead, I counted 6 global warming stories one week. SIX! As if there is nothing else to write about. And then, they write these long drawn out articles whenever it's political or liberal in nature.... and give you 5 lines when it's a real science story. Basically just a synapse or summary. They're pathetic. Like I said, I agree with some liberal positions, but I don't come here for that. I don't go to a science magazine for politics or social issues. I come here for science. So BAN ME POOPSCI! Because youz have no science. DO YOU HEAR ME MORONS???? BAN ME!!! CUZ YOU ARE A JOKE! And I need to break this ridiculous habit.
Today's magic is tomorrow's technology.
Not only that but the spam on here is out of control. You'd think a science magazine who is into technology would know how to BAN spammers. lmao.... you'd think they knew how to control it. But hell nah.... and then the people on here that attack you for your opinion.... omg, it's like a war zone. No scientific objectivity,.... since when does science not tolerate differing points of view? And that's what this site specializes in. Being biased. Their out of control spam should let everyone that reads this magazine know just how tech and science savvy the people that run this .... thing... are.
Today's magic is tomorrow's technology.
you see the blue "Report this comment" link down there? Bottom, right of every post? Just click that on all the posts you see belonging to me....lol.... please.
Today's magic is tomorrow's technology.
I guess you haven't been involved in too many full blown trash matches on here with some of the trolls that frequent this place. I, at least, try to bash the editors and owners when I feel they are fucking things up. But there's people on here who will call you names that will make your eyeballs explode.... simply because you disagree with them. They seem to think they are the experts on everything> They don't know when something is fact or theory, they believe all they read... and then attack you like a dog in heat when you try to point out that they could be wrong, or at least partially mistaking. It's just a big joke. And yeah, I'm ready to be banned bro.
Today's magic is tomorrow's technology.
You go off on popsci, calling them names without refuting any of their points. Then you write 5 more responses where you call out posters for calling others names.
The article sites research performed and recently released through the journal SCIENCE. Popsci is reporting that research. What is the problem here? Popsci doesn't state that all earthquakes are man-made. They don't claim that man is causing horrific earthquakes. They state that there are two conflicting reports on a potential for man to be involved in ONE earthquake with a high magnitude. They acknowledge that small quakes are harmless.
Putting waste-water into the earth appears to have an effect on earthquakes. That seems like something that a science website might want to be talking about. And something that they should definitely follow up on.
Now that I'm done ranting about your rants, I agree with you completely about this site and spammers. THAT is a joke.
There has been a massive increase in fracking in places like South Dakota and Pennsylvania without any "earthquake" increases. Maybe PopSci could please explain why this "problem" has not also occurred in these locations.
Ah... Toomey Toomey Toomey, where to begin. Can I just say that I'm very fed up, disillusioned by the oxymoronicism - don't know if that's a word - of a BIASED - SCIENCE magazine? The problem is siting research that promotes an agenda. The problem is reporting news articles that promote the same agenda. Tie those two together and you have "propaganda". The attempt to try and sway people's thinking by putting forth "science" research that promotes their views. Even if its just a silly little correlation between some minor tremors and fracking. They put artwork on here, the same damn article, 3 times in the last month and a half showing cities under 25 feet of water. With headlines that read, "this is how the earth WILL look in the coming years" or some such thing. Sub-headers that read, "so head for high ground!" They lambasted some guy who wrote on Wikipedia about how tat superstorm sandy was not part of global warming but just a happen stance conjunction of three different weather events. They Praise Obama like the second coming of Christ whenever they can, though recently, because of all the scandals he's involved in, they seem to have gone quiet on him specifically and only did some stories on the NSA. But why do those stories at all? Why all the one sided pseudo- "science"? OK, so this particular story was sited from the journal SCIENCE. Was it the best story in that journal this time around? Was it the most interesting? I doubt it. I could point you to countless stories on many other magazines that make this look like just what it is. A selfish attempt to promote their liberal agenda; "Evil man is hurting their environment". Fire and brimstone!!! The sky is falling!!! They had about 10 pot stories this year so far lol.... the stoners that they are. And what bugs me the most is that when they finally do decide to put up a decent story on a good, unbiased science topic, it's a couple lines long. Leaving you to have to search the net for the rest of the story. They should consider renaming this site popular politics. Because more than half their stories, such as this one, is politically motivated. Obviously, they are against fracking. Gee, whooda thunkit?
So, I apologize for the rants to all you posters out there. But, I feel that if a site such as this, who has an obvious large audience, should not be playing politics, or... at least take the "science" out of the name. Their credibility is ZERO at this point. Science doesn't work like this. And frankly, I guess I just lost it. So again I apologize to the posters. But to popsci, I stand by every word I've written.
Now - For a real live science story - see: discovermagazine.com/2013/julyaug/21-the-possible-parallel-universe-of-dark-matter
Just register for the full story. No subscription required.
Maybe I'll get banned now for promoting their competition. But I doubt the stoners are awake.
Today's magic is tomorrow's technology.
I hear your frustration. I remember a couple of weeks ago Popsci blaming the wildfires in Arizona on global warming. That is a joke.
I just called you out because this article doesn't seem like the one that warrants your frustration. Sure, on top of the hundreds of other "progressive" articles they have written, this would seem frustrating. But the article doesn't over-reach. It doesn't make damning claims. It does come from a research Journal. It should be on this site.
Unfortunately, because of some of the hack articles that they have put on here recently, this legitimate article is now falling on your deaf ears. It is real, yet you want to disregard it based on Popsci's past. That, I honestly believe, is Popsci's fault for not being more judicious in their approach. However, you sound like someone who thinks things through, so it is a shame to me that you are so loudly bashing Popsci about this particular article, as if implying that the article is untrue. I don't know for sure that this was your intent, but that is what it sounds like.
Popsci should be responsible for putting out good science articles, which they have not done of late. But you should also take each article by itself, reviewing and thinking of it on its own, to decide its merit. Just because Popsci is proving to be a bunch of hacks doesn't mean that some of the articles they put out are not worth considering.
GGenua, agreed on your points. We all feel that way to a degree. In fact, I am in the works of creating another science website to compete with this one. I got tired of being like you and only complaining. I too have been banned at least twice on this site. 1.) For insinuating that Angelina Jolies double mastectomy might be for an altruistic motive to get a boob job. The feminists were sensitive to that one. 2.) For establishing my belief that gays were the summation of an identity crisis... that one I have changed my opinion on because I found research for epi-genetic evidence that gays are a result of a lack of heavy androgens in the womb. Ok, fine. I am doing something about it though. :)
Now, if we can move past that... posters here are what make popsci. Period. We all know that. Some of the posts have more detail and thought than the whole editorial/writing staff has ever had in its existence. We agree with you. We all get fed up and freakout from time-to-time. Popsci has all but given its site away I assure you. My new site will take in all the objective scientific articles from physics, genetics, space, etc. It will have a most detailed and friendly posting engine for people like us and it will elegantly handle things like spam posts and lengthy controversial nerd battles, creationism vs evolution battles etc. Your'e frustrations will be fully recognized and all from like minded individuals. It has already begun. I have already written Popsci and warned them that I would be taking their web readers. It is a doozy of an interface too. Truly unlike anything else out there. Very interactive and simple. Using new usability techniques that Popsci will never have unless they copy mine. Patience grasshopper. We feel your pain. 3 months away. :)
For this story, I too am on the fence about this data on earthquakes. If this is real it makes sense that it may be releasing shallow fault pressure by lubricating stress points. This could be a very good thing, as others have eluded to, as it releases what would become greater magnitude earthquakes. Regardless of Earthquake science being able to predict an Earthquake, it is pointless to try to achieve. Just like tornadoes, you won't have enough time to move out of the way of an Earthquake. Predictions won't give you days or hours they will only give you minutes. Having new infrastructures that allow you to move with an earthquake will be the only real way to minimize earthquake damage. We should start getting rid of our old idea of a "home". The big clunky wastes of material that we call houses today would be better made out of less materials and in different shapes. I personally would be comfortable in a nice thick acrylic dome on the ocean floor or in a rain forest. I will have nice furniture and internet and all the comforts of home but, with less infrastructure. I will gladly freeball it in my loin cloth, as a techno druid, while I play Halo and lounge on my couch. This is a comforting thought to me and I doubt my 3 foot thick acrylic dome will crack when a quake comes through. Shit, make it an acrylic ball and Ill just spin the kinetic energy away. We need new respect for our planet and its uncontrollable forces while maintaining a smaller footprint of infrastructure that has to be maintained and worse, repaired, when a natural catastrophe happens.
"Do not try and bend the spoon. That is impossible. Only try and realize the truth - there is no spoon."
@GGenua I don't disagree with your sentiment, all I'm asking for is some civility. Lay off the rageahol, this is an intervention.
Ya know you're probably right that this article wasn't a good one for me to lose it on. But I guess I was just on a hair-trigger. I was just waiting for the next minor infraction lol, to let out my extreme disgust for what they've done to one of my favorite sites. Fracking and minor earthquakes? Sure why not. For now, without further review, I can see how it's possible. Is it an article that promotes their agenda? Absolutely.
I can't wait to see your new site. Sign me up! And I hope you take the majority of the posters on here with you, because that's what popsci deserves.
Ya know, don't get me wrong. I totally believe in free speech and someone's right to promote their views. I'm all for it. I visit sites that promote conservatism, and I also visit sites that promote liberalism. I like to get both views and decide for myself what I think is good for me. I find it frustrating listening to the same people agreeing with all liberal views or the same people agreeing with all conservative views. AS if they are mindless 'team-players' that MUST agree with their own side, regardless of how ridiculous something is. For example, I believe in GOD, but I also believe in evolution. Is that illegal? Is it contradictory? I don't believe so. I have my theories on that that fit perfectly fine with scientific AND theological LOGIC. I believe the climate is changing, but I don't believe that it is man made. At least not completely. Are we aiding it? Sure, minutely, perhaps. And I have seen studies and read research to both support man made versions and natural process versions enough to have come to that conclusion all on my own. But of course some trolls on here have called me a jesus freak, creationist, conservative. Simply because I don't believe that climate change is totally man made. And D49, I too have my ummm.... let's say, discomfort with homosexuality. And I was referred to a research article that claims that homophobes are actually just gays in denial themselves. Whatever.... I guess there are studies that prove just about anything you want. cough cough. My view on that is live and let live, but just warn me so I can scram! And, I too read the same article on that epigenetic research thing that says it isn't quite a genetic thing and it isn't quit an environmental thing but instead it may be a mix of both or some hormonal influence in the womb and other such things. Well, to me, it's not normal no matter how you get there. lol. Though I believe they should have the right to marry. You see how I can both liberal AND conservative? My liberal side says, 'sure, let them get married! Be my Guest'! My conservative side says, 'just call it something else, because it isn't ummm..... conventional'.
Anyways, back to poopsci; If they would just do more science than propaganda, I wouldn't mind so much. But I challenge anyone to find me one page of articles that does not include a liberal leaning story, I will eat my words. Go to the main topics page, sift through the numbered pages at the bottom and call out one number to a page that does not include a liberal leaning message. I should not have to wade through their heaps of shit just to get to some good science. And yes, I agree that popsci does carry some good stories, or my addiction to it would have long been over by now.
Looking forward D49! And don't forget that tricky little edit option for your reader's comments!
Lastly, @ adaptation,
I'm really just a good guy at heart.... smiles. My apologies. You've all been very tolerant and understanding of my behavior and for that I am grateful. Very rare on here.
Disclosures, disclaimers and excuses: Excuse my grammar, but English is not my native language. Excuse my views but they are mine and this is a free country. Do not take all that I said 'as is' because there is a lot more to it than I have explained.
My new (more fitting for this site) poopsci signature: If you're talking behind my back, you're in a perfect position to KISS MY ASS! Present company excluded.
Climate change is hopeless. If everyone starting bicycling tomorrow, the climate would still change.