I no longer report every frackquake that happens in this area. Who can keep up with them all? And unlike in the beginning when anyone suggesting a link to fracking and earthquakes was shouted down, now days it’s an accepted fact. But the M3.3 quake in Irving last night and a few responses on Twitter requires that I revisit the issue with some random facts and opinion.
We have known for 60 years that injection can induce earthquakes.
Injection is injection, folks. Fracking wastewater injection, injection for enhanced recovery and fracking itself, which is also injection, have all been linked to earthquakes. For fun, scientists used to inject fluid and try to predict the magnitude of earthquake the injection would cause. See Healy, et al., 1972.
- Wastewater injection has produced quakes of M4 and M5.
- M3 to M5 quakes have been scientifically linked to wastewater injection wells in: Arkansas (M4.7), Colorado (M5.3), Ohio (M3.9), Oklahoma (M5.7), and Texas (M4.8).
- Fracking intentionally cracks rock/shale.
- Fracking has produced quakes of M2 and M3.
- Oklahoma in 2011 – 116 quakes from M0.06 to M2.9 occurred near a well being hydraulically fractured.
- British Columbia 2009 to 2011 – 38 quakes from M2.2 and M3.8 caused by fracking fluids injection into a fault.
Other induced quakes:
- 18 M3 > quakes in Snyder area may have been triggered by CO2 injections.
- Eagle Ford Shale – 62 probable quakes, complex geography, seismic activity associated with injection and extraction.
The scary things about induced earthquakes:
The scariest things about these induced earthquakes is that this is an experiment and no one knows what will happen next.
- Induced seismicity may be delayed for many years,
- may not end for years after injection ends and
- may occur many miles from the injection point.
- The maximum possible magnitude of induced earthquakes is unknown.
Who profits and who pays?
Homes in Texas are built to withstand wind not earthquakes. Small earthquakes that would not be noticed in California, can cause expensive damage to homes in Texas and most Texans do not have earthquake coverage. The media normally reports that no “significant” or “major” damage was caused by these frackquakes. Significant and major are relative terms as the people in the frackquake zones have learned. Families who have foundation damage, cracks in ceiling and walls, or doors and windows that no longer close, find the repairs are expensive and often out of reach. They are stuck with a big mortgage for a damaged home.
The industry’s response is the same whether your water is fouled, you air polluted or your home has structural damage: “You can’t prove we did it.”
For most Texans property ownership is how we achieve the American Dream:
- work hard
- invest in property
- sell that property for a profit
- invest in more property
- eventually retire to smaller property and augment retirement with profits from property investments.
That’s why private property rights are a huge issue in Texas. What we have learned about fracking during this “boom” is how our private property value and our enjoyment of our property can be damaged by fracking:
- trespass of smelly, hazardous and toxic air pollutants onto our property that diminish our ability to enjoy our property and can cause health impacts,
- trespass of fracking chemicals into our water diminishing the quality and sometimes poisoning it beyond use,
- trespass of bright lights and noise that make it difficult or impossible to sleep,
- danger in our neighborhoods, damage to our roads and trespass of dust from truck traffic and
- structural damage to homes from frackquakes
Americans who find themselves in fracking zones simply because of where they live geographically are being sacrificed for the supposed good of the collective whole. But there are now an estimated 15 million Americans who live near fracking.
I’ve said this many times: The opposition grows in direct proportion to industry’s expansion. This should be a wake-up call to industry and our government that something needs to change. Instead they threaten us when we use democracy to protect our property and families. How much longer can this go on?
Note: The facts in this blog post are rock solid. If you want to explore further there are good resources such as the impeccably sourced paper, “Fracking Industrialization and Induced Earthquakes” and Earthworks report on frackquakes, On Shaky Ground.
Update: there was a M2.5 frackquake this afternoon in the same area. Event Page
Update 2: there was a M2.3 frackquake very early this morning. Event Page
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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