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U.S. Government Confirms Link Between Earthquakes and Hydrau

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U.S. Government Confirms Link Between Earthquakes and Hydrau

Unread postby Oilguy » Tue 08 Nov 2011, 13:24:55

On 5 November an earthquake measuring 5.6 rattled Oklahoma and was felt as far away as Illinois.

Until two years ago Oklahoma typically had about 50 earthquakes a year, but in 2010, 1,047 quakes shook the state.


In Lincoln County, where most of this past weekend's seismic incidents were centered, there are 181 injection wells, according to Matt Skinner, an official from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the agency which oversees oil and gas production in the state.

Cause and effect?

The practice of injecting water into deep rock formations causes earthquakes, both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Geological Survey have concluded.

The U.S. natural gas industry pumps a mixture of water and assorted chemicals deep underground to shatter sediment layers containing natural gas, a process called hydraulic fracturing, known more informally as “fracking.” While environmental groups have primarily focused on fracking’s capacity to pollute underground water, a more ominous byproduct emerges from U.S. government studies – that forcing fluids under high pressure deep underground produces increased regional seismic activity.

As the U.S. natural gas industry mounts an unprecedented and expensive advertising campaign to convince the public that such practices are environmentally benign, U.S. government agencies have determined otherwise.

According to the U.S. Army’s Rocky Mountain Arsenal website, the RMA drilled a deep well for disposing of the site’s liquid waste after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “concluded that this procedure is effective and protective of the environment.” According to the RMA, “The Rocky Mountain Arsenal deep injection well was constructed in 1961, and was drilled to a depth of 12,045 feet” and 165 million gallons of Basin F liquid waste, consisting of “very salty water that includes some metals, chlorides, wastewater and toxic organics” was injected into the well during 1962-1966.

Why was the process halted?
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Re: U.S. Government Confirms Link Between Earthquakes and Hy

Unread postby basil_hayden » Tue 08 Nov 2011, 15:29:19

First, the article refers to fracking the title then injection in the body. Two different beasts, by volume and purpose.

Secondly, much of the effects have to do with how shallow you're fracking (i.e. Marcellus) or injecting, and whether or not you're near geologic discontinuities such as faults in brittle rock types such as granites that are under directional stress/strain.
The bigger potential problem in the Marcellus is groundwater contamination in an area where groundwater is in use.

Thirdly, the largest microseismic network in the world is set up in the Bakken formation (shale/dolomitic layers) in North Dakota where they frack at the 10,000 foot level and data suggests that fractures only propagate a few hundred feet; injection of wastewater also takes place in the Dakota formation (sandstone) at about 5,000 feet below grade and I am not aware of any earthquakes. Drinking water resources are no deeper than 2500 feet in this area.

Fourthly, Oklahoma has historically had earthquakes of the magnitude seen last weekend. Nothing new here with respect to geologic time in the sense of amplitude, but maybe frequency, and I beleive this increased frequency has been seen worldwide.

Lastly, there have also been earthquakes reported that were related to geothermal resource exploitation in Switzerland and California, I think. In both cases, the shaking started when the water reached the hot rock, expanded, and came back up with the heat energy. Perhaps it's just a case of cold water on hot rocks, expanding under pressure and creating some tremors, like a boiling pressure cooker. Once the process was stopped, the tremors stopped.

We'll see if the population can take a few shakes with their energy needs.
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Spooked by Quakes, Oklahoma Toughens Fracking Rules

Unread postby AdamB » Sun 11 Mar 2018, 14:13:19

After swarms of earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing, Oklahoma has introduced tougher regulations than those used by any Canadian energy regulator. Last month the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered all drillers to deploy seismic arrays to detect ground motion within five kilometres of hydraulic fracturing operations over a 39,000-square-kilometre area in the centre of the state. The commission, which regulates the industry, also lowered the minimum level of earthquakes at which operators must change practices from the current 2.5 magnitude to 2. In addition, frackers must suspend their operations immediately for up to six hours after causing a 2.5 magnitude earthquake which can be felt at the surface. The commission created the new earthquake protocol after hydraulic fracturing operations set off more than 70 earthquakes of at least 2.5 magnitude since 2016. Canada’s energy regulators only make companies stop operations if they cause a magnitude 4 earthquake. The Alberta

Spooked by Quakes, Oklahoma Toughens Fracking Rules
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Re: U.S. Government Confirms Link Between Earthquakes and Hy

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Sun 11 Mar 2018, 14:28:34

Given the way things tend to work re government, this seems like a reasonable approach by government. Tighten regulations and attempt to deal with the problem by making things safer. Do NOT just "ban fracking", as though the world doesn't want and need hydrocarbons to run the system.

My main issue is how long such changes take -- but that seems to be in the nature of things in first world governments, generally, IMO.

They should continue to evaluate and make further changes if needed, based on ongoing objective data.

The modern world is fraught with risky activity. Without risk, modern technology and cities couldn't exist. In an ideal world, such risk is intelligently managed by prudent government regulation.

In the real world, things are often a mess in the short term, but society at least tries to navigate some sort of "reasonably rational" compromise. Obviously, MANY groups will disagree with the decisions made, on almost all substantive issues.
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