Wed. News

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2.9 quake in Dyersburg, Tennessee

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  1. Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas exploring possible connections between fracking, earthquakes
    States balancing interests of residents, oil and gas companies

    http://cjonline.com/news/business/2014-06-25/kansas-oklahoma-texas-exploring-possible-connections-between-fracking

    AZLE, Texas — Earthquakes used to be almost unheard of on the vast stretches of prairie that unfold across Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma.

    But in recent years, temblors have become commonplace. Oklahoma recorded nearly 150 of them between January and the start of May. Most were too weak to cause serious damage or endanger lives. Yet they’ve rattled nerves and raised suspicions that the shaking might be connected to the oil and gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, especially the wells in which the industry disposes of its wastewater.

    Now after years of being harangued by anxious residents, governments in all three states are finally confronting the issue, reviewing scientific data, holding public discussions and considering new regulations.

    The latest example comes Thursday in Edmond, Okla., where hundreds of people are expected to turn out for a town hall meeting that will include the state agency that regulates oil and gas drilling and the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

    States with historically few earthquakes are trying to reconcile the scientific data with the interests of their citizens and the oil and gas industry.

    “This is all about managing risks,” said Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner. “It’s a little more complicated than that because, of course, we’re managing perceived risks. There’s been no definitive answers, but we’re not waiting for one. We have to go with what the data suggests.”

    Regulators from each state met for the first time in March in Oklahoma City to exchange information on the quakes and discuss toughening standards on the lightly regulated business of fracking wastewater disposal.

    In Texas, residents from Azle, a town northwest of Fort Worth that has endured hundreds of small quakes, went to the state Capitol earlier this year to demand action by the state’s chief oil and gas regulator, known as the Railroad Commission. The commission hired the first-ever state seismologist, and lawmakers formed the House Subcommittee on Seismic Activity.

    After Kansas recorded 56 earthquakes between last October and April, the governor appointed a three-member task force to address the issue.

    Seismologists already know that hydraulic fracturing — which involves blasting water, sand and chemicals deep into underground rock formations to free oil and gas — can cause microquakes that are rarely strong enough to register on monitoring equipment.

    However, fracking also generates vast amounts of wastewater, far more than traditional drilling methods. The water is discarded by pumping it into so-called injection wells, which send the waste thousands of feet underground. No one knows for certain exactly what happens to the liquids after that. Scientists wonder whether they could trigger quakes by increasing underground pressures and lubricating faults.

    Another concern is whether injection well operators could be pumping either too much water into the ground or pumping it at exceedingly high pressures.

    ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy has pumped an average 281,000 gallons — about 94 tanker truckloads — of wastewater into its Azle wells nearly every day for more than two years, according to data published by the Railroad Commission earlier this month.

    In recent weeks, nighttime shaking in Oklahoma City has been strong enough to wake residents. The state experienced 145 quakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater between January and May 2, 2014, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

    That compares with an average of two such quakes from 1978 to 2008.

    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin approved new testing and monitoring rules for injection wells that require well operators to collect daily information on well volume and pressure, instead of monthly. The rules take effect in September, Skinner said.

    Southern Methodist University researchers have recorded more than 300 quakes around Azle since early December, with some days experiencing swarms of hundreds of microquakes and other days none.

    The geophysicists are measuring the earthquakes to plot out an ancient fault line and developing models that look at how fluids flow through the layer of rock where the earthquakes are originating.

    Researchers are also looking at whether fluids from disposal wells in Azle and around North Texas moved through the ground and helped stimulate that fault, or if earthquakes are occurring naturally.

    Members of the SMU team previously studied two other earthquake sequences in North Texas and concluded that there was a plausible link between the earthquakes and nearby injection wells. North Texas has had 70 earthquakes since 2008 as reported by the USGS, compared with a single quake, in 1950, reported in the region before then.

    Still, seismologists — and the oil and gas industry — have taken pains to point out that a clear correlation has not yet been established.

    “The link between injection wells and earthquakes is something we are still in the process of studying,” said Heather DeShon, associate professor of geophysics at SMU.

    Nationwide, the United States has more than 150,000 injection wells, according to the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and only a handful have been proven to induce quakes.

    Nonetheless, ExxonMobil is supporting the SMU study, company spokesman Richard Keil said.

    “We’re sort of in wait-and-see mode,” he said.

  2. Sorry I posted the same thing twice. WP lied and said it hadn’t been posted the first time and I assumed it was because the post was too long.

  3. Edmond earthquake town hall leaves attendees unsatisfied
    Residents worried about the spate of earthquakes that have plagued parts of Oklahoma likely got little satisfaction Thursday night at a town hall on the subject, as experts said there is no way to know their cause.

    http://newsok.com/article/4972923

    EDMOND – Residents worried about the spate of earthquakes that have plagued parts of the state likely got little satisfaction Thursday night at a town hall on the subject.

    Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologist Austin Holland said there is no way to know what has caused the unprecedented increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma, although several studies have linked temblors to oil and natural gas activity, particularly wastewater injection wells.

    The first question posed during the meeting’s question-and-answer session was why such activity has not been halted, but Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner said state law does not support such a unilateral move.

    He said regulators must have legal justification before shutting down an injection well.

    Holland said stopping the use of injection wells, which pump water deep underground, would not be recommended from a scientific standpoint because that would rob researchers of valuation data that could help them figure out how to prevent earthquakes.

    He also said that would halt production of oil and natural gas, an assertion that drew an angry-sounding rumble from the crowd at Waterloo Road Baptist Church.

    Several hundred people overfilled the church’s sanctuary and parking lot.

    Dozens of attendees lined up during the event to ask questions, many of which were hostile toward the oil and gas industry.

    A large percentage of people in the pews indicated they had been awoken about 12:30 a.m. Thursday by a magnitude 3.5 quake north of Edmond.

    “What is happening is frightening,” Skinner said. “I’m not here to put it any other way.”

    He said many of the commission’s employees live in areas that have been rattled by earthquakes, so they are trying to address the issue.

    “The search for answers is very, very real, and it’s very, very personal,” Skinner said.

    One woman complained the earthquakes sometimes make it feel as if “I have elves living under my house.” She said she has been waiting for three years to find out what is causing them.

    Holland said Oklahoma lacks the necessary resources to diagnose the problem because of its previous lack of seismic activity, but he is dedicated to finding answers.

    Skinner said the industry has been very cooperative. Some operators voluntarily shut down injection wells tied to seismic activity, while others shared expensive 3D seismic data that will help researchers identify faults where earthquakes may occur.

    Earl Hatley, the Grand Riverkeeper, said he supports a one-year moratorium on injection wells, a notion that drew a sturdy round of applause.

    Tim Baker, who oversees the corporation commission’s injection well program, said that likely won’t solve the problem because many of those deep wells predate Oklahoma’s recent earthquake swarms.

    “There’s something going on that we don’t understand,” he said.

    Regulators have enacted new rules that will go into effect in September to bring more scrutiny to injection well applications near where earthquakes have been recorded, officials said. They also created a six-mile buffer zone around the epicenter of earthquakes that register above a 4.

    Skinner said officials from several oil and gas-producing states are working together on the issue, but the process will take time.

    That didn’t sit well with many at Thursday’s meeting.

    “You want to study us like animals,” one man complained. “Do you want a 7.0 (earthquake) that leveled Haiti to occur in the middle of Edmond?”

  4. Oklahoma more than doubles California in earthquakes
    Oklahoma can now be considered the earthquake capitol of the Lower 48.

    Read more: http://www.koco.com/weather/oklahoma-more-than-doubles-california-in-earthquakes/26673322#ixzz35pZyYnMP

    Earthquakes have quickly become a part of Oklahoma. Since 2009 earthquake activity in the state has rocketed from averaging one 3.0 or greater earthquake a year, to at least one of these earthquakes per day.

    California has always been considered the place for quakes, but not this year. As of today California has recorded 88 magnitude 3.0 or greater quakes, but Oklahoma has nearly doubled that number at 174.

    Oklahoma has felt five 3.0 or greater quakes just Thursday morning.

    Alaska remains the state to recorded the greatest number of earthquakes. As of today the state has seen 477 3.0 or greater quakes.

    California and Alaska’s quakes are spread out over a large part of the state, but unlike California and Alaska, Oklahoma’s quakes have been concentrated in the sames parts of the state. Nearly all of Oklahoma’s earthquakes have been centered in the central and northern part of the state.

    Smaller earthquakes have occurred, but a magnitude 3.0 is generally considered an earthquake that can easily be felt.

      • Flyingcuttlefish, it seems to me that TPTB want to use the Oklahoma earthquakes to start a domino effect to throw the New Madrid fault into the “future America” map. I have the map but can’t post it. People can search “future America map” to see how North America will be reconstructed.

      • Oklahoma just had a 4.0…

        M4.0 – Oklahoma
        2014-06-27 22:35:05 UTC

        http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/usc000rn6i#summary

        And no… Because of TB’s mendacity, it doesn’t show on the helicorders, despite being next door.

        And I agree with you Keith, about the ‘future map of America’ bit. I assume your referring to the US Navy one.

        What’s your theory as to the formation of the blue-blob where the Rockies currently stand. I have mine. What’s yours ??

      • If you overlay the “US Navy Map of the Future” with maps containing fault-lines, volcanoes, and earthquakes from the past week.

        You’ll find that that ‘blue blob’ that everybody uses to rubbish the map, as in ‘It’s impossible, how can 4000 foot mountains get submerged’, is…

        Chock full of fault-lines.

        Is outlined by a ring of volcanoes, including Yellowstone in the NE corner, and the Long Valley Caldera in the SW corner, both Yellowstone, and Long Valley Super volcanoes are showing an increase in activity.

        Is also almost completely outlined by a series of earthquakes of various magnitudes.

        In fact, apart from the volcanoes that help form the ‘pacific ring of fire’, only two of the volcanoes in the interior of the continental US are outside of that ‘blue-blob’, the rest are inside, or on the edge.

        There is also the ‘Gulf of California’ to the SW and that to is showing an increase in activity.

        And consider that the Japanese earthquake of 2011 is believed to have altered the height of the land by up to 7m. Just what would a magnitude 10+ earthquake do ?

        —–

        You may or may not agree with this post, but I find it one hell of a coincidence that the geological evidence, fault-lines, EQ’s and volcanoes etc, just happen to match that area almost perfectly.

      • all views welcome here …
        Since the Navy Map is so quoted across the internet I put of the history of it for reference.
        Many journos check this site regularly.

      • Davidh, I’ve read that Scallion predicts that a fault will split around Utah to Wyoming area to form a new shore line down to Phoenix, Arizona. That blue blob signifies a new extension of the Pacific Ocean.

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