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gzt

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  Reply # 1068849 18-Jun-2014 20:34
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Dynamic: I've recently wondered whether 'fracking causing earthquakes' might even potentially be a good thing. If there is a faultline with pressure building up, surely a series of small movements caused by a bit of man-made lubrication is better than the fault letting to in one big hit.

Fracking is not the lubrication of existing faults for the purpose of releasing seismic pressure. Fracking introduces new geological faults into a complex system. This alters the balance of forces within that system and redistributes forces in unexpected ways.

Ignoring all the other side effects it is exceedingly silly to use this technique near nuclear power stations, fuel storage, dams, etc, etc.

If you or I can explain how inducing a fault in some random place (just because it has the potential for gas recovery) will magically reduce the risk of an earthquake on a major faultline we could earn some serious consulting fees ; ). The reality is that redistribution of energy could just as easily increase the risk on a major fault. Nobody knows.

Evidence is accumulating that fracking is leading to increased seismic activity. Statistically speaking, increased seismic activity is usually a bad thing not a good thing.

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  Reply # 1068852 18-Jun-2014 20:42
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gzt: Fracking introduces new geological faults into a complex system.

An interesting comment.  Can you point me in the direction of any evidence?




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gzt

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  Reply # 1068950 19-Jun-2014 00:14
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Dynamic:
gzt: Fracking introduces new geological faults into a complex system.

An interesting comment. Can you point me in the direction of any evidence?

A very bad choice of words on my part. I'm obviously not a geologist : ). There is no evidence I am aware of that fracking creates new geological faults in the 'faultline' sense of movement between two bodies. The intended meaning of that comment was something like 'breaking up an existing geological formation by means of fracking introduces new variables into a complex system'.

As I understand it, Ohio has identified fracking near faults as a risk and now requires intensive monitoring as part of the permit conditions and agreement that operations will halt if activity over 1.0 is detected while an investigation takes place to determine if the activity is related to fracking.

My guess is the state is responding to public interest and the beginings of some evidence. I assume state geologists will perform a statistical analysis to determine if the pattern observed is 'natural' in origin or likely to be induced by the operation and then perform a risk analysis of some kind. Either way there are a lot of firsts in there imho so it's not clear what will happen in practice.



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  Reply # 1069076 19-Jun-2014 09:55
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I wouldn't want to be a geologist trying to explain the cause or making forecasts of how that quake sequence is going to behave.
There's a (2008) seismic hazard map below, shading colour indicating 2% probability of an event with ground shaking intensity as per the key.  The highest assessed risk around a known fault system, but that's about 200km from where the present activity is happening.  I expect that a bit of added pressure to explain what's happening might come from the unfortunate coincidence that many of the earthquakes are happening under or very close to Oklahoma City. Has there been any other recorded intraplate quake swarm of this duration or intensity?  The quakes are also happening over a wide area, several hundred km.
The New Madrid seismic zone about 700km NE of where this swarm is occurring did let rip with a series of > M7.5 (2 possibly over magnitude 8 quakes) in 1811/12.  FEMA considers this area to be a major threat
Whether or not this swarm sequence is being induced by fracking, and given the poor understanding of the mechanism of intraplate quakes (unlike faults on plate boundaries, the faults can't be seen, slip rates measured, and estimates made of stress etc), then I expect there might be some relief if the swarm dies down and fizzles out.

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  Reply # 1069095 19-Jun-2014 10:12
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Swarms are not indicative of Fracking being the cause, swarms occur in many places, e.g Matata in the North Island 




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gzt

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  Reply # 1069114 19-Jun-2014 10:52
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The issue for Ohio is that a recent swarm has occured out of context of the usual natural indicators. Local and nationally employed scientists are deeply concerned about this:

Official joint statement from US Geological Survey and Ohio Geological Survey:

USGS statistically analyzed the recent earthquake rate changes and found that they do not seem to be due to typical, random fluctuations in natural seismicity rates. Significant changes in both the background rate of events and earthquake triggers needed to have occurred in order to explain the increases in seismicity, which is not typically observed when modeling natural earthquakes.

The analysis suggests that a likely contributing factor to the increase in earthquakes is triggering by wastewater injected into deep geologic formations. This phenomenon is known as injection-induced seismicity, which has been documented for nearly half a century, with new cases identified recently in Arkansas, Ohio, Texas and Colorado. A recent publication by the USGS suggests that a magnitude 5.0 foreshock to the 2011 Prague, Okla., earthquake was human-induced by fluid injection; that earthquake may have then triggered the mainshock and its aftershocks. OGS studies also indicate that some of the earthquakes in Oklahoma are due to fluid injection. The OGS and USGS continue to study the Prague earthquake sequence in relation to nearby injection activities.

These are not the rantings of uneducated conspiracists, but an official statement from the leading seismologists of the United States. The course of action chosen in Ohio is intensive monitoring as part of permit conditions. That seems very sensible to me.

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  Reply # 1069141 19-Jun-2014 11:33
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JimmyH: I would just like to observe, in passing, that correlation does not mean causality.

More than what you have presented is needed to draw any conclusions about causation.


Exactly what I was thinking, and not a glib statement at all.  Correlation in single data set in no way proves causation, this is Stats 101. 

For example:  Prostate cancer is correlated with the use of urinals.

To accept the correlation presented by the OP as proving causation it would need to be replicated across a number of sites, and ideally there should be data from comparable sites where fracking does not occur, over the same period of time.




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  Reply # 1069143 19-Jun-2014 11:33
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The Oklahoma swarm will be monitored and investigated and would have been even if Fracking was not in the area as these events can give valuable information. The Matata swarm had in excess of 1,000 shallow quakes and was subject to a lot of investigation.I think the outcome was that these things can just happen.
I am not saying the Oklahoma swarm is not  a result of the Fracking but I believe it is to soon and not enough data is present to even come close to determining a link, it is however very valuable,  it will be interesting to read the conclusions, if any, they  come to.




Mike
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 It's our only home, lets clean it up then...

 

Take My Advice, Pull Down Your Pants And Slide On The Ice!

 

 


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  Reply # 1069168 19-Jun-2014 12:15
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MikeAqua:
JimmyH: I would just like to observe, in passing, that correlation does not mean causality.

More than what you have presented is needed to draw any conclusions about causation.


Exactly what I was thinking, and not a glib statement at all.  Correlation in single data set in no way proves causation, this is Stats 101. 

For example:  Prostate cancer is correlated with the use of urinals.

To accept the correlation presented by the OP as proving causation it would need to be replicated across a number of sites, and ideally there should be data from comparable sites where fracking does not occur, over the same period of time.


Agree.

We know so little about earthquakes, that it's difficult to look at man made forces causing quakes, which are massive releases of energy,taking a massive amount of energy to cause it. I am sure there is a relationship, but I also expect it to be generally low, on the other hand a fault that is due to slip, may slip sooner. We know so little, a lot of positive correlations need to happen. Example, we could frack here in Christchurch tomorrow, and get a 5.5 a week later. To me, that is statistically almost zero correlation.



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  Reply # 1069255 19-Jun-2014 15:14
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tdgeek:
MikeAqua:
JimmyH: I would just like to observe, in passing, that correlation does not mean causality.

More than what you have presented is needed to draw any conclusions about causation.


Exactly what I was thinking, and not a glib statement at all.  Correlation in single data set in no way proves causation, this is Stats 101. 

For example:  Prostate cancer is correlated with the use of urinals.

To accept the correlation presented by the OP as proving causation it would need to be replicated across a number of sites, and ideally there should be data from comparable sites where fracking does not occur, over the same period of time.


Agree.

We know so little about earthquakes, that it's difficult to look at man made forces causing quakes, which are massive releases of energy,taking a massive amount of energy to cause it. I am sure there is a relationship, but I also expect it to be generally low, on the other hand a fault that is due to slip, may slip sooner. We know so little, a lot of positive correlations need to happen. Example, we could frack here in Christchurch tomorrow, and get a 5.5 a week later. To me, that is statistically almost zero correlation.


The causation hypothesis is based on statistical analysis of the probability of a sequence such as is being observed on Oklahoma being of entirely "natural origin" or not.  There are only two possible answers - either the quakes are being induced (even if partly), or they aren't.  I doubt that anybody at USGS is claiming absolute proof - I expect they've all done stats 101.  I expect seismologists would always be stuck with a "one data set" problem, no two geological structures will be identical - there isn't a "comparable site".  In this case there is the correlation, a plausible explanation for the mechanism, and statistical analysis to suggest that the earthquake sequence may not be entirely "natural" in origin.
If there was some data showing that similar swarms occur in similar geological conditions elsewhere, then of course that would be a compelling correlation to suggest that these events in Oklahoma are "natural", but would not "disprove" that the Oklahoma swarm is being caused or influenced by fracking.
I guess one of the most difficult and perplexing issues here is that this quake swarm appears to be unprecedented and unique. Intraplate quakes do happen, sometimes in a sequence / swarm (near Melbourne in recent years), but never as far as I'm aware to the extent of around 50 events larger than M3 per month, the frequency almost steadily increasing / doubling per year.  

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  Reply # 1069266 19-Jun-2014 15:31
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This isn't a go at the OP, but to me it's just too coincidental that those causing alarm about quakes from fracking are also those most alarmist about climate change and anti- almost everything else.  I'd put the seismic risks from fracking right up there with the health hazards of living near a cellphone tower
In the meantime, fracking seems a pragmatic way to defer the world's energy crisis by a couple of generations in which time maybe fusion will become practicable.  But I'm sure the same people will find a while lot of reasons why fusion is terrible too

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  Reply # 1069270 19-Jun-2014 15:34
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shk292: This isn't a go at the OP, but to me it's just too coincidental that those causing alarm about quakes from fracking are also those most alarmist about climate change and anti- almost everything else.  I'd put the seismic risks from fracking right up there with the health hazards of living near a cellphone tower
In the meantime, fracking seems a pragmatic way to defer the world's energy crisis by a couple of generations in which time maybe fusion will become practicable.  But I'm sure the same people will find a while lot of reasons why fusion is terrible too


People are alarmist about climate change because climate change is alarming.

Instead of doing stuff like Fracking why not put the effort and resources into finding safe, sustainable alternatives to meet energy needs.




Mike
Retired IT Manager. 
The views stated in my posts are my personal views and not that of any other organisation.

 

 It's our only home, lets clean it up then...

 

Take My Advice, Pull Down Your Pants And Slide On The Ice!

 

 


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  Reply # 1069293 19-Jun-2014 15:44
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KiwiNZ:
shk292: This isn't a go at the OP, but to me it's just too coincidental that those causing alarm about quakes from fracking are also those most alarmist about climate change and anti- almost everything else.  I'd put the seismic risks from fracking right up there with the health hazards of living near a cellphone tower
In the meantime, fracking seems a pragmatic way to defer the world's energy crisis by a couple of generations in which time maybe fusion will become practicable.  But I'm sure the same people will find a while lot of reasons why fusion is terrible too


People are alarmist about climate change because climate change is alarming.

Instead of doing stuff like Fracking why not put the effort and resources into finding safe, sustainable alternatives to meet energy needs.


I don't think it is "either/or".  But the fact remains that if we want to continue anything like our current standard of living, and give developing chances a chance to develop, we need energy other than conventionally extracted fossile fuels and the rather pitiful attempts so far at sustainable alternatives.  Especially if you want to get rid of nuclear fission power, which the Fukushima alarmists are keen to do.

Personally I'm far from alarmed after 17 years of no warming but agree that research on viable sustainable alternatives has got to make sense

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  Reply # 1069294 19-Jun-2014 15:48
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shk292:
KiwiNZ:
shk292: This isn't a go at the OP, but to me it's just too coincidental that those causing alarm about quakes from fracking are also those most alarmist about climate change and anti- almost everything else.  I'd put the seismic risks from fracking right up there with the health hazards of living near a cellphone tower
In the meantime, fracking seems a pragmatic way to defer the world's energy crisis by a couple of generations in which time maybe fusion will become practicable.  But I'm sure the same people will find a while lot of reasons why fusion is terrible too


People are alarmist about climate change because climate change is alarming.

Instead of doing stuff like Fracking why not put the effort and resources into finding safe, sustainable alternatives to meet energy needs.


I don't think it is "either/or".  But the fact remains that if we want to continue anything like our current standard of living, and give developing chances a chance to develop, we need energy other than conventionally extracted fossile fuels and the rather pitiful attempts so far at sustainable alternatives.  Especially if you want to get rid of nuclear fission power, which the Fukushima alarmists are keen to do.

Personally I'm far from alarmed after 17 years of no warming but agree that research on viable sustainable alternatives has got to make sense


I don't want to hijack this thread but denying climate change is almost the same as denying that the Earth is round.




Mike
Retired IT Manager. 
The views stated in my posts are my personal views and not that of any other organisation.

 

 It's our only home, lets clean it up then...

 

Take My Advice, Pull Down Your Pants And Slide On The Ice!

 

 


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  Reply # 1069295 19-Jun-2014 15:49
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global warming or not, when you first land in Beijing it's like seeing thru a fog. no sunnies needed on the sunniest day.

as soon as you land in NZ without any sun, on a clear day I can't see a thing - way too glaring ...

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