- Education and Science»
- Geology & Atmospheric Science
Fracking and Earthquakes - Are They Related?
7:02 AM Near Pawnee, Oklahoma
My lovely wife got my sorry fanny out of bed shortly after 7:00 this morning, saying "I think we just had an earthquake!". I.immediately got up and opened my laptop to search on the Folkworm Ceri site to see if she was correct. A few moments later I confirmed what she felt: another strong quake had hit central Oklahoma, registering 5.6 on the scale which tied it for the strongest in Oklahoma history from November 2011. By the by, we felt that one as well. From close to 200 miles away.
In researching this morning I found a site showing where the wells are that are being used to send the wastewater underground and one that shows where the earthquakes occur: it is eerie to see how closely they coincide with one another. Until one of these wells causes a strong enough quake to stir the New Madrid fault and create absolute havoc in America nothing will get done; there is simply too much greed, too many jobs to be had in Oklahoma to bother with "minor" effects sending these wastes into the Arbuckle underground feature of our Earth and causing more and more quakes. Eventually one will set off a major quake and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, all for our country's greed.
Update March 29, 2016
If you still believe Fracking and its associated wasterwater injections are not to blame for Frackquakes, take a look at the link below. Oklahoma has now reached California proportions when it comes to earthquake likelihood. Per the article, published by the Associated Press, portions of northwest Oklahoma will have a 1 in 8 chance of a damaging earthquake this year. Here is what the experts are saying:
"Induced quakes are to blame for much of the problem. They result when wastewater is injected deep underground, said USGS seismologist Justin Rubinstein, the deputy chief of the mapping program. That injection is a byproduct of energy drilling, including hydraulic fracturing, a relatively new and controversial process to drill for oil and gas. But he said the fracking process itself mostly doesn't cause quakes strong enough to be damaging, while injecting fracking waste does."
- Feds: Risk of 2016 quake increases, especially in Oklahoma - Yahoo News
From Yahoo News: WASHINGTON (AP) — The ground east of the Rockies is far more likely to shake this year with damaging though not deadly earthquakes, federal seismologists report in a new risk map for 2016. Much of that is a man-made byproduct of dril
UPDATE:November 30, 2015
Earthquakes continue to occur, and for the most part those large enough to be felt are occurring in areas contiguous to Fracking wells. And yet, there are those who refuse to admit there is a problem.
Areas in and around Dallas are now showing signs of frackquakes, and will continue to grow both in number and possibly in strength. When will we wake up enough to realize that greed will kill us? That we cannot continue to pump poisons into the earth without expecting something dangerous occurring? That we cannot inject a substance with the intent of lubricating fault lines with the predicted result of increased number and more damaging quakes?
People, wake up. If you have not seen the film "They Live", you might take a look at it. It reminds me greatly of what we have become, a nation of sheep believing nothing but the propaganda shoved down our throat and ignoring the warning signs that are there if we but open our eyes.
I am updating this Hub today as there is a new map showing Oklahoma and its frackquakes. Look at it; decipher it; then defend Fracking if you dare.
- Another Earthquake Hits Oklahoma: Officials Worry Stronger Quake Could Threaten National Security
Officials in frack-happy Oklahoma are continuing to express concern over the state's alarming earthquake boom. If a strong one strikes Cushing—one of the largest crude
- 26 Earthquakes Later, Fracking’s Smoking Gun Is in Texas - The Daily Beast
After 11 quakes in the last two days – with one registering at a 3.6 – Irving, Texas’ sudden onset tremor problem might be the fracking industry’s nightmare.
- Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale - Big Oil and Bad Air on the Texas Prairie
Big Oil and Bad Air on the Texas Prairie
What is Fracking?
Fracking, or more correctly termed Hydraulic Fracking is sending a liquid mixture deep into the Earth's crust in order to fracture, or "frack" the rock in order to release a profitable amount of gas or petroleum. The mixture, which is a proprietary mixture of water, chemicals and other materials is injected into micro-fissures in order to release the items intended.
What is not intended, and is a very real side effect, are the earthquakes in areas which have not historically seen earthquakes. My question is where will this ultimately lead? Will the area being subjected to fracking become as active as Southern California, where the residents simply have to live with the constant mini quakes and worry about a mid major or even a major quake while waiting for California to break off and drift away into the Pacific Ocean? What if the Central United States became the Kansas Sea once more?
Update: July 14, 2014 Article regarding recent quakes in central Oklahoma and their relationship to Fracking.
- USGS: 7 small earthquakes shake central Oklahoma - Yahoo News
From Yahoo News: GUTHRIE, Okla. (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey has recorded seven small earthquakes shaking central Oklahoma in a span of about 14 hours.
We experience an earthquake
November 5th, 2011. 10:53 PM.
My wife and I had just fallen asleep when we were awakened by something. We were unable to put our finger on it, but something was different; wrong. It was a feeling of difference; there was something going on. Our room is on the second floor of our home and the feeling was very strong, perhaps enhanced by our distance from the ground. From somewhere within we become conscious of a sound, a low, ongoing rumble almost too low to even hear. It was almost more felt as a vibration inside our heads than heard. Then it became audible and I knew what it was.
I jumped out of bed and flew down the stairs to open the door. Don't ask me what I was hoping to see; I couldn't tell you.
For close to two or three minutes, the house shook slightly and that sound, that ominous sound continued. It felt much longer than that, I assure you.
Finally, it stopped. I came back upstairs and picked up my laptop to go to a website that I keep an eye on due to our proximity to the New Madrid Fault in Southeastern Missouri. I thought it had let go again. The last time it had significant earthquakes was in the winter of 1811 to 1812. In those three short months it had four quakes which registered in the area of 8.0 on the Richter Scale. The Mississippi River had reversed its flow and run northward, and windows had broken in Boston. It had even rung church bells in Toronto. Had it happened again?
I tried and tried to log onto the website, to no avail; it was simply too busy with others doing the same thing. It was the next morning when I found that the earthquake which had awoken us was centered in Oklahoma. Oklahoma? Earthquake? Huh?
Earthquakes in Central Oklahoma
Believe it or not, Central Oklahoma is one of the most seismically rich areas in the continental United States now. Literally hundreds of micro-quakes, ranging from the unable to feel 1.0 to the yeah you felt that 5.7 of that night occur each year. 2011 saw nearly 1,600 quakes that were able to register on the Richter Scale occur. This past Sunday, March 30, 2014 I received no less than eight, that's 8 alerts on my iphone from the area North of Oklahoma City and West of Tulsa. All were in the 3.5 to 4.3 range. A 5.1 quake hit southern California this weekend and is spread across the news media for all to see but no one ever talks about the swarms which are occurring with more and more frequency in Oklahoma.
- Oklahoma Earthquake Was Largest Linked to Injection Wells, New Study Suggests | StateImpact Oklahoma
A University of Oklahoma seismologist's research, released today, provides further evidence that Oklahoma's largest-recorded earthquake was triggered by injection wells used by the oil and gas industry. Katie Keranen’s findings, published today in th
One 24 Hour Period of Earthquakes
Consider the following earthquakes in a 24 hour period in Central Oklahoma.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
10:08 PM 3.7, 10:55 PM 3.5
Sunday, March 30, 2014
12:49 AM 2.6, 1:37 AM 3.5, 1:51 AM 4.3, 1:59 AM 3.3, 3:07 AM 3.5, 3:10 AM 3.6, 3:42 AM 4.3, 4:06 AM 2.8, 4:51 AM 2.7, 7:49 AM 3.2, 9:09 AM 4.1, 7:54 PM 2.7
Monday, March 31, 2014 They continued on, smaller but still there.
10:25 AM 2.7, 12:17 PM 3.2, 3:04 PM 2.5, 4:43 PM 2.3, 5:35 PM 2.5, 6:45 PM 2.9, 6:59 PM 3.1, 7:26 PM 2.8, 8:50 PM 3.0
On Tuesday April 1, 2014 there was a 3.0 at 2:07 AM, a 2.6 at 8:41 AM, and a 3.2 at 12:07 PM. All of these are in the same general area as the November 2011 quake and are in the immediate vicinity of Fracking stations. Coincidence?
While a 2.8 or a 3.2 may not be earth-shakers they are still earthquakes and as such should be a concern for what may be coming, and anyone would be concerned by a 4.3, right? If it happened beneath my home, I know I would be.
But taken together they are a pattern, a pattern of what is coming to the area: more and more quakes of increasing intensity.
Are you concerned about the potential for additional and larger earthquakes due to Hydraulic Fracturing?
What Is Causing This Uptick In Earthquakes?
Why now? Why are we seeing so many cluster quakes occurring in Oklahoma? In part due to the increased output of what is called "tight oil", from 160,000 barrels a day in 2012 to 320,000 barrels a day. If you double the output using techniques which literally fracture portions of solid shale and rock thereby causing slippage, you get earthquakes.
To explain further, by late 2004 there were 24 Woodford Shale gas wells in Oklahoma. By early 2008, that number had increased to over 750. These began as vertical wells, digging straight down into the earth. From there, they became predominantly horizontal wells moving away from the vertical shaft and out into the rock and shale formations seeking product.
Chemicals are injected down these wells both as a means of fracturing the rock and releasing the oil and natural gas trapped there and as a means of disposal of wastewater from these operations. These injections are creating a loosening of the rock, at times along or near a fault line which in turn allows this fault to slip, causing earthquakes. It is similar to placing a liquid designed to release friction on something stuck and lubricating it; once coated the pressure causes slippage and voila! Earthquake.
So what is being injected into the earth? Primarily water, but with added chemicals which may or may not (depending on who you ask) pose a health risk. As of 2012 there were some 11,000 disposal wells in Oklahoma which are being injected with what is termed wastewater. In the commercial wells alone there have been nearly 9 billion gallons of wastewater injected into these wells in the past two years alone. No record exists which can tell how many additional gallons are being injected into private wells.
Some have stated that over the last several decades some 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid has been injected into our earth in these operations.
The chemicals which are in use include ceramic beads, used to "prop" or hold open the fractures to better allow the oil and gas to flow from the area; hydrochloric and/or muriatic acid, to clean up areas of cement and drilling mud; peroxydisulfates to enhance recovery of the fluids; bactericides to prevent bacterial growths; sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate to adjust the pH of the fluid to maximize efficiency; methanol to reduce rusts; potassium hydroxide to change the fluid viscosity; polyacrylamide to allow maximum injection rates; isopropanol, alcohol, glycol, ammonium chloride: the list goes on and on.
All of this is going down into the ground and staying. For years; decades; centuries. Millennia? Who can say?
- Fracking Does Cause 'Widespread, Systemic' Contamination of American's Drinking Wa
The EPA has confirmed that fracking does indeed contaminate drinking water, a fact the oil and gas industry has vehemently denied. But instead of dismantling
Movie starring Matt Damon about fracking
And that is where the problem lies. Who can say where these are going? For sure we know they are loosening the fault lines of dormant faults thereby allowing earthquakes to occur in locations where there were none before, and creating (or assisting in creating) larger, more frequent quakes in areas which may have had minor issues before.
And that is where my concern lies. What if we start connecting fault lines?
Several years ago there were similar clusters in Arkansas. If memory serves, during one time frame there were several hundred quakes in a short 48 hour period.
I will tell you, I was scared to death. We live smack between the Oklahoma area and the New Madrid Fault. Just South of a line between these two were those Central Arkansas quakes. I just knew that the Arkansas quakes were going to activate the New Madrid fault and it would stretch across Arkansas and Missouri and connect with Oklahoma, creating a massive, 500 mile long active fault thus creating a massive potential for earthquakes.
What could that mean to the area I live in? Well, for starters this entire area comprised of Southwest Missouri, Southeast Kansas, and Northeast Oklahoma were once mined areas. Literally thousands of mines were sunk into the area, primarily searching for lead and zinc. The entire area is a honeycomb of underground mines stretching for miles in all directions. Some appear on maps; some do not. For example, the High School which was destroyed by the May 22, 2011 EF-5 tornado which hit Joplin is being rebuilt, bigger and "better" than before. A snag appeared during construction when no less than six sinkholes were found up to twenty feet below ground during excavation. Only one was expected, the others had not shown up on any map of the area. On the Wikipedia page for Joplin, Missouri it is stated that as much as 75% of the main portion of Joplin is undermined.
In other words, the region is a house of cards waiting, just waiting for something to shake the table. Then it all comes tumbling down.
It is much the same for Carthage, Webb City, Carl Junction, and Carterville in Missouri; Galena, Riverton, Baxter Springs and Pittsburg in Kansas; and Quapaw, Commerce (childhood home of Mickey Mantle), Picher and Miami in Oklahoma. There are more towns and cities in the surrounding area but you get the idea.
Several hundred thousand people live in this area, all standing, living on thin ice.
A severe earthquake in either Oklahoma or Southeastern Missouri could conceivably connect the dots between the two, thus creating a long line of quakes and shaking, sand blows and such across the area and down it would all come, lock stock and barrel.
This is where the area differs substantially from Southern California: even if a large quake hits there, most of the area will remain standing, ready to rebuild. This area would become one large sinkhole, perhaps a lake. It would be devastation beyond anything seen in this country.
There are those who say that Fracking has been going on for years and there is no direct correlation to earthquakes caused by it. No longer can someone who digs even a little say that is true. There are more and more studies coming out which are tying the two together in states such as Oklahoma and Arkansas.
It has taken a while but the earth is becoming more and more fractured by this technique and as a result, fault lines which were dormant are becoming active to the point of creating an earthquake which will rival anything California has seen, and possibly creating a series of monster quakes such as were seen two hundred years ago in Southeastern Missouri, Southwestern Tennessee and Kentucky and Northeastern Arkansas. Imagine tens of thousands of square miles full of upheavals, sand blows a hundred feet across, pits and holes opening and swallowing homes and cars, buried lines carrying oil, natural gas, sewer all rupturing and creating firestorms miles across.
Sounds like hell on earth to me. And we will have created it by our own greed.
Does This Affect Only The Region?
So, what do we do? Americans have this need for oil to drive our cars everywhere so we are handcuffed to the regions which harvest it. We are trying to become independent of the Middle East and many turn a blind eye as to how we achieve this: fracking is one blind eye. But at what cost?
Is it worth hundreds of thousands of lives to continue to inject a toxic soup into our ground, perhaps allowing these chemicals to infest our ground water, and thereby us, our animals, our crops in the process? Is it acceptable to blindly shove a lubricant into areas which are experiencing more and larger earthquakes than at any recorded time before and continue to bet against the house that everything will be okay? All in the name of telling the Middle East to shove their oil?
You tell me. I live here and I do not desire to be caught in the middle of something which could cause such death and destruction to so many. But before you vote, think about this.
How much oil and natural gas travels through the area in underground pipelines? Where are these headed? The East Coast and New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C.? What happens if a major quake disrupts that flow, spilling into rivers and waterways across the region and never reaching their destination? In the middle of winter? So while we lay dying below ground, perhaps never to be seen or heard from again, the East Coast suddenly has no heating oil to survive and becomes a disaster in its own right. Farfetched? Maybe, but are you willing to bet the house on it?
Peter Hernon wrote a fascinating book entitled 8.4 some years ago about a major quake hitting the New Madrid area in today's world. He describes the before hand and afterwards in great detail and allows the reader to see into the future. It is a bleak look, let me assure you. The map I have here shows the reader the area which would be affected by a major (8.0) quake in both the New Madrid and San Andreas fault lines. Notice how much wider the area is for the New Madrid as opposed to the San Andreas due to the underlying geology of the area. How many more people would be affected by such a quake. Then go onto the New Madrid page of Wikipedia and read for yourself the details of the last set of quakes in the area. It is a chilling read.
- Scientists: Bad fracking wells taint water
WASHINGTON — Faulty fracking wells are to blame for drinking water contamination in Texas and Pennsylvania, according to new findings from researchers at five universities.
Earthquakes are directly linked to Fracking in my eye. Perhaps not every well will offer the opportunity for quakes, but the more we drill and inject, the higher the risk. Perhaps not now, although we are seeing an increase, but soon; soon. Maybe our children will be forced to deal with another one of our thoughtless issues we leave behind. Imagine their lives disrupted or destroyed due to something we caused, and had a chance to rectify. Wouldn't you make that choice?
We must find something better, some other option for fuel for the future of our race; something beyond oil and gas, beyond another band aid on our lives. Change! We need something new which will offer a better tomorrow for our children and our grandchildren. Our Government must demand it as we must demand it of our Government. Our slavery to this fossil technology must cease immediately else we continue to build our house of cards atop the table, rising higher and higher all the while daring something to shake, rattle, and roll it while hoping our house does not fall.
- Shaky ground in tornado alley - Yahoo News
From Yahoo News: A record-breaking swarm of earthquakes has hit Oklahoma, a state better known for its tornadoes.