Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fracking: Good for energy companies, good for earthquakes

Posted By on Thu, Jul 11, 2013 at 9:17 AM

FRACK AWAY: Its all good, Jason Rapert will tell you.
  • FRACK AWAY: It's all good, Jason Rapert will tell you.
Arkansas is already familiar with this story, but it bears mention.

Mother Jones reports on new evidence of linkage of practices in fracking for gas and oil with earthquakes, here along the Wilzetta fault in Oklahoma. It was long thought "dead," until a 5.7 quake in 2011.

When the Wilzetta mysteriously and violently awakened, [Oklahoma geophysics professor Katie] Keranen wanted to know why. So she partnered with scientists from the USGS and Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The morning after the initial foreshock, Keranen's team scrambled to install three seismometers around Prague. They did so in time to capture the quake system in unprecedented detail. She says, "We got this beautiful image of the fault plane." Within a week, her team and other scientists had placed a total of 25 devices around the fault zone. One is buried in the Reneaus' backyard. Now, having completed a yearlong study (just published in the journal Geology), Keranen's research indicates the Oklahoma earthquakes were likely attributable to underground injection of wastewater derived from "dewatering," separating crude oil from the soupy brine reaped through a drilling technique that allows previously inaccessible oil to be pumped up. "Pretty much everybody who looks at our data accepts that these events were likely caused by injection," Keranen concludes.

...Such seismic activity isn't normal here. Between 1972 and 2008, the USGS recorded just a few earthquakes a year in Oklahoma. In 2008, there were more than a dozen; nearly 50 occurred in 2009. In 2010, the number exploded to more than 1,000. These so-called "earthquake swarms" are occurring in other places where the ground is not supposed to move. There have been abrupt upticks in both the size and frequency of quakes in Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, and Texas. Scientists investigating these anomalies are coming to the same conclusion: The quakes are linked to injection wells. Into most of them goes wastewater from hydraulic fracking, while some, as those in Prague, are filled with leftover fluid from dewatering operations.

Jason Rapert surely can explain how this is alarmist nonsense that will kill the goose laying golden eggs, or something, all over the Fayetteville shale.

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