There were 2 more earthquakes in Cleburne yesterday evening (that makes a total of 17 recent earthquakes). One happened during an emergency meeting where Cleburne officials were trying to decide what to do about the earthquakes.
- A plume of toluene in the Trinity Aquifer didn’t get people’s attention.
- Increased smog from drilling emissions didn’t get people’s attention.
- Pipeline explosions
didn’t getsort of got peoples attention, for a moment.
There’s nothing like a few earthquakes, even minor ones, to get people’s attention.
This commenter expressed some of the thoughts I’ve been having lately:
Petrea Rasmussen has left a new comment on your post “Barnett Shale Earthquakes Caused by Drilling Exper…“:
According to the news I just watched this morning (6/10/09), Cleburne convened an emergency meeting last night; they voted unanimously to hire a geologist to determine “what’s happening”. The spokesman said they want to be careful with the hire. They don’t want somebody to just say “don’t worry” and “everything’s normal” … but, on the other hand (said the spokesman) they don’t want someone to say that the center of town is about to sink into the earth. I was taken quite aback by those statements! Plan to hire a scientist, ostensibly to determine the truth, yet place limits on the scientist’s results before they even begin their work! It’s the principle I disagree with, not a judgment on the reasonableness of those statements.
The news, however, was not what I just ranted about. The news was that, according to the news report, Cleburne experienced yet another quake last night (6/9/09) either during or just before the emergency meeting mentioned previously.
Finally, I’d like to thank TXSharon for having published sufficient authoritative information for me to find it entirely reasonable to conclude that the fraking for natural gas in the Barnett Shale formation can easily be the responsible for triggering tectonic earthquakes in our Metroplex. I wonder if our local policymakers were made aware of the potential for earthquakes. Either answer to that question is troubling.
Yes, local policymakers were warned about the history of earthquakes where drilling activity occurs. They were warned by Don Young and by me. We were laughed at.
I don’t have time to do a lot of research right now but you can Google your own selves and learn that:
- Drilling activity can cause earthquakes.
- Drilling activity can cause sinkholes.
- Earthquakes sometimes proceed sinkhole formation.
- Drilling activity has caused Magnitude 5 earthquakes.
- Magnitude 5 earthquakes cause property damage.
- Gas pipelines are a major cause of concern during earthquakes. (Ahm, remember those pipelines running through neighborhoods?)
Early this morning I saw a tweet from Bud Kennedy, known drilling apologists, calling attention to his article today, which was picked up by the Dallas Blog:
The greatness of Bud Kennedy points out two things about the DMN’s story Monday quoting a UT scientist who says Barnett Shale drilling could be causing these quakes: one, Kennedy quoted the same guy saying the same thing a year ago; two, he also told Kennedy the following:
“These are all very small events. Only a few feet away, you would hardly feel them. … If I owned land with the potential for minerals, I wouldn’t hesitate to drill.”
The above is troubling for the reasons pointed out by the commenter and for some additional reasons.
- People in Louisiana felt the quakes that occurred in the mid-cities area several months ago.
- People all over Cleburne and outside felt the quakes.
- This scientists already holds the belief that quakes are caused by drilling but they are limited to only small quakes. This seems to limit his ability to be completely objective.
- He is making light of something that could be quite serious.
- He feels the money earned from minerals would outweigh the risks.
GET THIS THROUGH YOUR @!&%$ HEADS:
Not everyone affected by drilling owns minerals! Hundreds of millions own nothing but the surface and they have no say in what happens.
Mineral owners are outnumbered by surface owners so Mineral owners need to become a whole lot smarter and more ethical. Start protecting the rights of surface owners!
SMU deploying portable seismic stations to study Cleburne quakes
According U.S. Geological Survey data, more earthquakes have occurred since last October within a 100-mile radius of Fort Worth than in the previous three decades combined. From 1973 to 2006, the USGS recorded 11 minor quakes in that area. Seventeen have been recorded in the past 7 months, including two recorded an hour apart on Tuesday in Cleburne. Most have occurred along the border between Dallas and Tarrant counties.
I love numbers.
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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Don Young says
Bud Kennedy is a big fat idiot!
There. Now I feel better.
Don't earthquakes happen at the tectonic plates 25 miles beneath the Earth's surface? The gas wells are only a mile deep and can be up to a mile horizontally. The hole itself is 5 inches OD, how can a 5" hole a mile long cause an earthquake? Plus the well is sealed in cement and steel that is stronger pressure wise than the Earth's natural formation pressure. I really think folks should look into this before jumping on what has brought Johnson County is biggest economic growth in history.
I just left a comment givng a little insight for a good argument, I guess since I dont agree, I dont get posted. Thats bad debating, I guess you just lost the third person who actually considered your blog and read it.
I just drove home in one of the worst storms I've ever seen and saw a gas well blow up from a lightening strike. Ease up a little. It's hard to moderate comments while driving under those conditions. I let just about any comment through–even the ones calling me names–as you would know if you were a regular reader.
I'm certainly not an earthquake expert so I just mostly copy and past stuff written by earthquake experts. If they say drilling activity causes earthquakes, I generally will listen to them before anonymous commenters.
I am a graduate student of geology at Texas Tech University. Lets see if I can clarify a few things…
Earthquakes do not just happen at/along tectonic plates. They can occur where there is any fault or large fracture within the rock. An earthquake is essentially the result of frictional energy being released as two rock surfaces slide past one another. As such, it is theoretically possible that the frac jobs are causing minor earthquakes. HOWEVER, there's a lot more to it than that.
Fracturing a rock formation introduces planes of weakness. If the area is already under tectonic stress, these planes of weakness provide a readily-available avenue for slip to occur. In this sense, it would seem that fracturing a rock formation could result in localized earthquakes where there are no pre-existing faults.
The problem is that the Barnett is a shale, essentially lithified clay. Shales and other mudstone-type rocks are generally pretty weak, and are therefore not very good at storing energy. They readily slip and deform along bedding planes, and this prevents enough energy from building up to cause an earthquake. As such, earthquakes within a shale like the Barnett would be pretty unlikely.
Obviously, I don't know if the frac jobs are causing earthquakes in the area. You can make a geological argument for either answer. We'll just have to wait and see what the geologist they hire finds.
It's easy to search out negative stories and "cut and paste" your blogs, but what are your suggestions?
What did you use to drive home in that storm?
Probably would have sucked on a bicycle.
The fact is that we need energy to drive in the rain and use our laptops to post other people's original thoughts. 100% clean, pretty, smell-good energy just isn't here yet. So please, enlighten me and the rest of your community how you would fix these problems all while not destroying the economy?
“The gas wells are only a mile deep and can be up to a mile horizontally. The hole itself is 5 inches OD, how can a 5" hole a mile long cause an earthquake? Plus the well is sealed in cement and steel that is stronger pressure wise than the Earth's natural formation pressure.” So, they just drill these holes, seal them up, then go drill other ones? They don’t fracture the surrounding rock with “power charges”? They don’t pump anything out of them from the surrounding rocks? Maybe you should learn a little more before commenting.
A lot of people have been polluting the air because it brought the area it’s “biggest economic growth in history” until it started affecting the health of those living there. People that just think about making money to provide for their children need to also think about what kind of world they are leaving their children to live in.
Hydrogen powered vehicles are hopefully on the horizon. Hydrogen can be produced with water and electricity produced from wind power or “solar cells”. There are so many answers, I cannot list them here.