Avoiding fracking earthquakes: expensive venture
The pressure caused by water pushed far below the surface for a long period has been linked to an increase in seismic activity, as water enters fissures and lubricates fault lines which can cause earthquakes in places otherwise free of them.
“It basically greases the wheels of the earthquake process that is there naturally and causes the earthquakes to occur at lower stress levels than they might normally have needed to occur,” said Larry Brown who chairs the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Precautions can be taken to mitigate risks of earthquakes near disposal wells, such as lowering injection pressure and avoiding areas with a history of seismic activity, though none of these guarantee total safety.
On paper, the link between fracking and quakes is compelling. As the oil and gas industry embarked on a massive expansion of hydraulic fracturing across Arkansas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, the number of earthquakes in areas where wastewater was injected back underground surged tenfold.
Data from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which had seismographs set up in Youngstown on Saturday, concluded that the earthquake occurred at the same depth as the well, about 2 miles below the surface.
And this contaminated water is going to air about 20 years to come back…but it will, rest assured.
You’d have think we’d have learned this by now…when someone can make billions of $ now while selling something that raises risks to others a generation from now…they will. See: Big Tobacco, Asbestos.