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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Earthquakes continue at the same location in Oklahoma, an area of fracking fluid disposal. Here is rjs's take on it, from his Marketwatch 666 blog post

Updated earthquake link:

Earthquakes continue at the same location in Oklahoma, an area of fracking fluid disposal.  Here is rjs's take on it, from his Marketwatch 666 blog post of November 13, 2011:

you may have heard on the news that there were a few large earthquakes in oklahoma over the past weekend...normally, i dont pay much attention to quakes, but this roused my curiosity because i knew that oklahoma was one of the areas where there were shale gas plays being worked by hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking...initial reports dismissed the connection, but since i knew that fracking had been previously identified as a cause of minor earthquakes in blackpool england, and swarms of small quakes in arkansas, i did some digging for more information...reports had the 5.6 quake, the largest in oklahoma history, at a depth of 3 miles, and searching the woodford shale, which is the shale formation where gas is being extracted in the area, i found "The Woodford Shale is considered to be one of the most important ...  and ranges in depth from 13000 to more than 40000 ft (estimated)." (pdf)...further checking the USGS record, i found there were 15 quakes over 3.0 magnitude about 5km deep in the same area in a 24 hour fact,over a 4 day period, more than 1/4 of the worldwide earthquakes over 2.5 on the USGS record were in Oklahoma at the same depthwith large aftershocks continuing....obviously, all this activity didnt go unnoticed, &others started asking questions, & by the end of the week there were reports that both the USGS & the US Army had confirmed man made earthquakes associated with injecting water into deep rock formations; AP also reported Oklahoma had only experienced about 50 earthquakes a year before fracking, but last year there were 1,047 small quakes in the area...some of you are quite familiar with fracking, but for those who arent, fracking is the process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into wells at extremely high pressure in order to break up deep rock formations that have gas or oil trapped in's not a new process, but it's now become common in the US where most of our easy to get to domestic oil reservoirs are depleted...there are several environmental concerns associated with the practice; first, it takes copious amounts of water (about 5 million gallons per well, with thousands of wells per field), which becomes polluted by the hundreds of chemical additives, including some which are toxic, known carcinogens, or neurotoxins...inadequate water alone has inhibited fracking in some dry western states, and water must be trucked in from the Missouri river to work the bakken oil shale in north dakota (no link; request bakken water study from my files)...there have been dozens of reports of the pollutants reaching home water supplies, and small streams in pennsylvania, where some civil war era disposal rights are grandfathered in; even this week there was a SciAm article on one such incident in Pavillion, Wyo, where wells for 42 homes were poisoned...moreover, some home water supplies have been contaminated by the methane gas itself, such that water coming out of the tap is actually is because of these problems that fracking has been banned in france, and moratoriums on it put in place in South Africa and New South Wales Australia...although fracking was originally exempted from US regulation in 2005, the EPA has recently agreed to reopen an investigation into its impacts on water addition, significant amounts of methane gas escape into the atmosphere during fracking operations, and as methane is 25 times as potent a heat-trapping gas as CO2, but 72 times more potent over 20 years, using gas from fracking could have twice as potent a near term affect on the climate as burning an BTU equivalent amount of coal...although it would seem that blasting large portions of the bedrock into tiny fragments might be the cause of the earthquake problems, it is not the fracking itself that is implicated in earthquakes, but rather the common practice of injecting the contaminated spent frack water into disposal wells far underground; this water is thought to seep through cracks in the bedrock and lubricate previously dormant faults where pressure had been building; then, once one fault breaks, adjacent rock formations have pressure applied  from the shifting, resulting in the quake swarm phenomena that has been observed...according to a new report by Common Cause, the petrochemical industry has pumped millions of dollars into Congress to avoid regulation of fracking, and this past week CNBC obtained audiotapes of an industry conference in houston where it was recommended to oil & gas execs that they hire former military “psy ops” specialists to plan tactics against citizen "insurgencies"...

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