Arkansas, Colorado, earthquakes, Fracking, geologic hazard, geology, hazard, induced seismicity, injection induced seismicity, Injection wells, oil and gas, Oklahoma, risk management, Texas, underground waste storage, USA, USGS, wastewater disposal
Marisa Lubeck of the USGS noted in “Record Number of Oklahoma Tremors Raises Possibility of Damaging Earthquakes“, 5/5/2014 11:30:00 AM:
“The joint statement indicates that a likely contributing factor to the increase in earthquakes is wastewater disposal by injection into deep geologic formations. The water injection can increase underground pressures, lubricate faults and cause earthquakes – a process known as injection-induced seismicity. Much of this wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production and is routinely disposed of by injection into wells specifically designed and approved for this purpose. The recent earthquake rate changes are not due to typical, random fluctuations in natural seismicity rates.” http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3880&from=rss_home (Emphasis Added) They seem to have forgotten water injection for fracking!
We had posted this information quickly and overlooked the politico-economics of it, which appears to place the problem of injection-induced seismicity solely upon wastewater injection, rather than on the more obvious and the profitable hydraulic fracturing. And, perhaps we need to return to calling fracking what it is, fracturing. While water is often used, it is not the only means. The ever-imploding Bayou Corne, Louisiana sinkhole was caused by failures in wastewater injection (See a current video and Oklahoma well map at bottom). The below illustration shows clearly why fracturing induces earthquakes and sinkholes.
Illustration by Mike Norton via Wikimedia
Full USGS article:
“Record Number of Oklahoma Tremors Raises Possibility of Damaging Earthquakes, Updated USGS-Oklahoma Geological Survey Joint Statement on Oklahoma Earthquakes Originally Released: 10/22/2013 1:07:59 PM; Updated May 2, 2014
The rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma has increased remarkably since October 2013 – by about 50 percent – significantly increasing the chance for a damaging magnitude 5.5 or greater quake in central Oklahoma.
A new U.S. Geological Survey and Oklahoma Geological Survey analysis found that 145 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater occurred in Oklahoma from January 2014 (through May 2; see accompanying graphic). The previous annual record, set in 2013, was 109 earthquakes, while the long-term average earthquake rate, from 1978 to 2008, was just two magnitude 3.0 or larger earthquakes per year. Important to people living in central and north-central Oklahoma is that the likelihood of future, damaging earthquakes has increased as a result of the increased number of small and moderate shocks.
Oklahoma’s heightened earthquake activity since 2009 includes 20 magnitude 4.0 to 4.8 quakes, plus the largest earthquake in Oklahoma’s history – a magnitude 5.6 earthquake that occurred near Prague on Nov. 5, 2011. The 2011 Prague earthquake damaged a number of homes and the historic Benedictine Hall at St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee. Prior to the 2011 Prague earthquake, the largest earthquake of Oklahoma’s history was a magnitude 5.5 earthquake that occurred in 1952 near El Reno and damaged state buildings in Oklahoma City.
“While it’s been known for decades that Oklahoma is ‘earthquake country’, we hope that this new advisory of increased hazard will become a crucial consideration in earthquake preparedness for residents, schools and businesses in the area,” said Dr. Bill Leith, Senior Science Advisor for Earthquakes and Geologic Hazards at USGS. “Building owners and government officials should have a special concern for older, unreinforced brick structures, which are vulnerable to serious damage during sufficient shaking.”
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.
Collaborative USGS and OGS research to understand earthquake rate increase in the central Oklahoma area includes quantifying the changes in earthquake rate, assessing the implications of the increased small and moderate earthquake activity for large earthquake hazards, and evaluating possible links between these earthquakes and wastewater disposal from oil and gas production activities. The OGS is also focused on seismicity in north-central Oklahoma.
To more accurately determine the locations and magnitudes of earthquakes in Oklahoma, the OGS has increased the number of monitoring stations and now operates a seismograph network of 15 permanent stations and 17 temporary stations, many of which are on loan from the USGS. There are also three permanent seismic stations operated by the USGS and the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology. Data from this network are shared in real-time with the USGS National Earthquake Information Center, which provides 24×7 reporting on earthquakes worldwide“. (Emphasis added) http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/ceus/products/newsrelease_05022014.php
It is important to note that there are reportedly many injection type wells in the area of the New Mexico WIPP Nuclear Waste Storage facility, as well. Some, now dated, info regarding injection wells near WIPP: http://www.wipp.energy.gov/library/cra/baselinetool/Documents/Comments%20and%20Responses/Responses/081604%20-%20Enclosure%201.PDF
“Yellow Shale wells (3-18-2013, generalized), Purple Class II wells (generalized)Counties, Oklahoma Shale wells (3-18-2014) and Class II wells. Data Mapped by The FracTracker Alliance on FracTracker.org. Original data sources are listed as Oklahoma Corporation Commission, Oklahoma Geologic Survey, US Census, EIA. Accessed on 11 May 2014, UTC, http://maps.fractracker.org/latest/?appid=fc88d95485c8423bafee417c26a95782&webmap=aa7f85ff6fb149248df33ba2aae66080
The FracTracker maps are built on an Esri platform on FracTracker.org”
Definition of US Class 2 wells http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/class2/
Ongoing Catastrophic Failure of a Waste Water-Brine Injection Well in a Salt Dome, which is now a growing sinkhole, aka Louisiana Sinkhole
Bayou Corne, Louisiana, 16 April 2014