When we invade other countries and start wars for their oil and gas, what’s a little earthquake activity here at home?

There are plenty of reasons to worry about fracking—groundwater contamination, methane leaks, that flaming tap water thing. But can it really cause earthquakes? That’s the question the US Geological Survey set out to answer after a spate of tremors in the Midwest—an area not usually known for earthquakes—alerted scientists to the possibility that some of them might be man-made.

Seismic activity in the Midwest started increasing around 12 years ago but picked up significantly in the past few years, says seismologist Bill Ellsworth, the lead author of a new USGS study examining potential links between fracking and earthquakes in the region.

  1. omfgoats says:

    We’ve had quite a few quakes out here by Youngstown. While I could believe that waste injection wells don’t cause quakes, the denials by the oil companies and the requests for more information has the same feel as the Tobacco companies and their lying about the health effects of smoking.

  2. The DON says:

    From the BBC news site today, confirmation that fracking experiments here caused earthquakes : second paragraph


    This question even needs to be asked???

    My concern is over the contamination of the water table

  3. MikeN says:

    Fear of any energy source that doesn’t meet the environmentalists guidelines, namely that they should produce little energy.

  4. dusanmal says:

    Eco-nuts are attempting to hype any danger about any natural resource usage. Have they been this powerful no oil, coal or ore would ever been dug out. We’d be still shitting from the trees (for that they’d have excuse of fertilizing the ground).
    Yes, there are some risks. No they are not significant particularly compared with benefits. No risk, no prosperity.

    • spsffan says:

      Hey! Shitting from trees is a very useful thing to do, if most of the human race is below you on the ground!

  5. maxload says:

    Right. When you can’t adequately discuss something, fall back on demonizing the opposing party and stating your position in unequivocally black and white terms (it works so well for politicians).

    The fact of the matter is, while frakking itself isn’t a new technology, ‘slickwater fracturing’, used at the depths we are currently, is.

    Couple that with the fact that we don’t *really* know what’s beneath our feet, any more than know what’s really in the water that covers 71% of the planet, and the chance that our lust for cheap energy is having unintended consequences are high.

    I realize caution is not in vogue at the moment, neither is cooperation, nor apparently is tolerance. I respectfully submit that neither “side” of the energy debate has the “truth”, but both bring something to the table.

    The challenge is to find the balance.

    • spsffan says:

      Very well said. I might add that frakking or no, there’s still a finite amount of fossil fuel on the planet, and once it is burned, it’s gone forever.

      So, while I’m all in favor of domestic production solely for the purpose of not being beholden to the Islamic nutjobs in the Middle East, we (the human race) shouldn’t squander fossil fuels. We should be working our asses off to develop alternative sources while the oil gas and coal is still coming out of the ground reliably.

      • Glenn E. says:

        Of course it’s a finite amount of fossil fuel. But it’s a very large planet. And they keep finding new deposits of oil and natural gas, all the time. So I don’t see us running out anytime soon. We’ve still got some time to change over, gradually. Rather than at some panic pace, that screws everyone but the rich and powerful.

    • So what says:

      Max, that made perfect sense, which is why it will never happen.

  6. Elwood Pleebus says:

    hmmm earthquakes in the midwest. Couldn’t have anything to do with the active New Madrid fault line in southern Illinois? Nah just a coincidence.

    • smartalix says:

      Maybe the high-pressure liquids (they are shattering rock down there, you know) are stimulating the fault? If you are up to your neck in crap, don’t wave your arms around.

  7. Pays2Think says:

    So why do you think they want to obtain fossil fuels through fracking? Well, we have found all the easy, cheap oil and gas in the world. First, we had to dig for oil in shallow water now we have to dig thousands of feet down, next will be out in the middle of the ocean. The oil industry is running scared, they know were at peak production and everything from now on is risky and expensive. Franking is big-time risky but they don’t care they are the oil industry. We have given up our land for them and we have fought wars for them, we have died for them and now we are paying more for them.

    If you think that the gallon of gas you put in your car really costs $4.00 you’re an idiot. Try adding up all the money we spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan oil wars and then add that the the cost of you gas. Where do you think all those taxes you pay go?

    The only reason we aren’t investing in our future with renewable and solar energy is because the oil industry knows it will lose its grip, lose its control. With solar there’s no one to pay for the raw material. Sun, Wind, Tide, Waves etc. just happen.

    All you anti-renewable and solar energy dolts are nothing but Tools of the fossil fuel industry.

    • MikeN says:

      So you support nuclear power then? The other renewables are not usable on a large scale, except for hydro. Which is why hydro tends not to be classified as renewable when talking about renewable energy mandates. All you who support solar and wind power are idiots feedin the big corporations behind it with subsidies. In Europe, they found companies producing solar power at night just to get the subsidies.

      • Pays2Think says:

        Nuclear power is just to expensive. when you add up the true costs associated with nuclear power which include long term waste storage, transportation, local and national security, local evacuation plans which include roads, bridges plus training and equipping local (to the reactor) Fire, Police and Hospital workers.. etc it’s just not an economical investment. Hydro has about maxed out and as the average water levels drop it becomes less and less interesting.

        The good news is that we use the vast majority of all energy in the day not the night. Photo-voltic, Photo-thermal and Wind are day time producers. Tide, Wave, Flow and Geothermal are the most underdeveloped, are more efficient and are 24/7 producers of energy.

        No one is suggesting we eliminate the use of Fossel Fuels. However, with some effort and subsidies that match the subsidies now being received by the Fossil Fuel industries we could be producing the majority of our energy needs using Photo-voltic, Photo-thermal, Wind, Tidal, Wave, Flow plus Geothermal energy in about 20 years.

        Germany, which is at the same latitude as southern Canada will be producing 20% of it’s electricity by 2020 using photo-voltic cells.

        If you live in the southern states of the USA and you don’t have solar panels on your home or business you are throwing money away.

        This isn’t rocket science the world is moving to renewable energy production because they know that Fossil Fuels are an economical dead end.

        • deegee says:

          Anyone who believes the lies that solar and wind are our future green energy saviors needs to do a bit of research and quit listening to the people who have vested monetary interests in pushing the technology.

          Solar (and wind) are a complete dead end.

          You can’t get solar at night or when it is heavily overcast, you can’t get wind unless the wind is blowing, so what do you do?
          Install chargers and deep-cycle batteries.
          Batteries that cost $10k-20k+ for only enough power to run part of a modern family home.
          Batteries that can only be charged ~1500 times (~4 year life), then they have to be discarded and replaced, at a cost of $10k-20k+ every four years (I don’t pay anywhere near that for all of my utilities).
          Batteries that end up in the land-fills and environment, that contain many dangerous chemicals and compounds.

          Even geo-thermal is a dead end as the amount of power required for the pump exceeds the amount of green energy savings.

          You can also go to any of the electric/hybrid car auto forums, and see all of the people there getting a rude awakening when they learn that they have to replace the batteries in their vehicle at a near-$10k price tag within 5 years after purchasing their cool green car, when the price of the batteries is higher than the resale/book value of the vehicle, so many of them simply get rid of the vehicle after 5 years for parts or into the landfills.
          Most people I know get 2x to 4x that life out of their fossil fuel vehicles.

          The bottom line: solar and wind and these other “green” energy technologies are as much of a dead end as fossil fuels, if not worse.
          But most people are gullible and believe the lies.

          • Pays2Think says:

            And man will never fly and man will never go faster than 60 miles an hour and man will never break the sound barrier and man can never go into space etc. etc. etc.

            All your statements are flat earth thinking and has nothing to do with modern technology.

        • NewfornatSux says:

          >However, with some effort …we could be producing the majority of our energy needs using Photo-voltic, Photo-thermal, Wind, Tidal, Wave, Flow plus Geothermal energy in about 20 years.

          No, we couldn’t. http://3000quads.com

          • Pays2Think says:

            As I said “No one is suggesting we eliminate the use of Fossel Fuels. It took Brazil 18 years to convert all its cars and trucks to ethanol and to become energy independent.

            Germany, (the same latitude as southern Canada) will have converted 20% of it’s electrical need to solar over a 17 year period.

            Almost 50% of the american population lives below the 35th parallel and 80% of the population lives with 60 miles of wave and tide waters.

            The article is interesting but it does not include wave or tide base energy and it’s facts are based on what is presently generated. It does not talk about what could be if we start to invest now.

    • NewfornatSux says:

      Subsidies for coal, 64cents per megawatt hour produced. Nuclear $3. Wind $56. Solar $775.

      • Pays2Think says:

        Your forgetting about the trillions we have spent on the oil wars. Not including the dead solders and the 10′s of thousands that require life long medical care $$

        You must think that gallon of gas you put in your car only costs $4.00, funny.

        BTW the debt from all the oil wars and oil subsidies per taxpayer is $104 thousand dollars. How much do you think you’ve paid for gas and oil now?

        • deegee says:

          Pays2_NOT_Think said: “All your statements are flat earth thinking and has nothing to do with modern technology.”

          What are you talking about?
          The information in my post above is totally current and accurate, look it up for yourself, or I can give you links to retailers and manufacturers if you prefer. Ask anyone installing a 2kW-5kW solar setup onto their home just what it is costing them in batteries. Now check any battery reseller or manufacturer for the charge cycle lifetime.

          I am an electronics engineer who works for an engineering/architectural firm who has completed many “green” designs.
          My brother works for a company who sells/installs solar and wind.
          Please get a real education before posting.

          • Pays2Think says:

            Well in that case you must be familiar with the companies that are installing residential solar systems like SunEdison, & SolarCity.
            I have three proposals each of which are very similar. My house can take 24 225W panels with an estimated yearly production of 6,494 kWh. Give or take each system produces approximately 38% of my yearly need. In all proposals batteries are not used. If excess power is produced during peak sun, it is sold back to the local power company.

            I can purchase the panels or lease the panels or pay nothing in which case I am guaranteed a per kw price for the next 20 years regardless of the normal increases from the power company.

            The 20 year savings for the no cost option is approximately $30k. and I live in New England.

            Forget the savings, if every home and business could reduce its fossil fuel use by even half that it would have an enormous economic impact on the country. Imagine all the jobs installing those systems.

            P.S. our Prius is 9.5 years old, same battery, still gets 45mpg.

          • smartalix says:

            I’d never ask you to design anything for me, that’s for sure.

      • Rick says:

        Nuclear power has been subsidized to the tune of $38 billion dollars.

        The reason it even gets a subsidy is due to the shockingly expensive cost of a power plant. Private enterprise just will not pony up the $15 billion for a single powerplant, and insurers will not give them policies without government support.

        On the other hand, there is almost zero risk to building an alternative energy project and insurance is effortless to get.

  8. Omfgoats says:

    There’s quite a few fault lines in Ohio. The question is: Are the recent spate if earthquakes caused or exacerbated by waste water injection?

  9. deowll says:

    Injecting water into a fault clearly can cause some shifting and removing water can lock sections of faults. That’s been tested in CA.

    At least for now I have to say that unless you did this on a major fault with a lot stored energy you aren’t going to cause more than tremblers and the lubrication would actually tend to prevent major quakes at that location by preventing enough energy being stored at that location to cause a major quake.

  10. MikeN says:

    Does this mean fracking is now a real curse word, and Battlestar Galactica has to be bleeped?

  11. sargasso_c says:

    We are fracked.

  12. orion3014 says:

    who gives a frack? Drill Baby Drill!!!!

  13. The Watcher says:

    It’s pretty clear that the tree huggers and the Progressives are in bed together on this, to avoid any sort of independence from their Islamist supporters.

    Their intent: Bring down the economy so Zero can become Great Leader and enslave us all – straight out of Hitler or Stalin’s play book.

    Anecdotal evidence, earthquakes in fault areas, gotta be true because Zero and Oat Bran say so….

  14. Glenn E. says:

    It’s impossible to extract or utilize any energy source on the planet, without causing some negative effect. Hydro is technically Solar energy. It take the Sun to move the water upstream, from the oceans. Tapping the rivers’ latent power, effects how much of this water reaches people who depend on it for drinking water and crop irrigation.

    Solar panel arrays shade the ground beneath, effecting plant and animal growth. Even if it’s a desert location. And naturally, digging coal or pumping oil, out of the ground is going to have an effect. So is burning it. Nuclear has safety, processing, and waste storage issues. Even wind mills have some effect on the weather, by tapping some of the power from air movement.

    The question is, how significant an effect is any of this? Will it get much worse, as it’s increased? Can we live with those effects? Or can we live in a world with very little energy usage? I doubt that seven billion people could do with less. So we’re either resign to having some negative effect on the earth’s ecosystems. Or we become cannibals, to reduce the world population. And quickly!

    Geothermal is another energy source you rarely here about. That’s mainly because the Earth’s crust just isn’t hot enough, in most places, to generate sufficient steam power for turbines. Only near naturally occurring fissure, does it work. So we either have to drill a whole lot deeper, to tap heat from inside the earth. Or create new fissures. Which will likely cause more earthquakes. Even so, any heat released from below, will raise the surface air heat levels.

    And another rarely talked about energy source is Tidal. Tapping the energy of ocean currents and tides. But what effect will there be from interfering with these currents? Climates are likely to be effected. And perhaps even sea life.

    There’s no magic power source, without any consequences.

    Solar might work better if we set up arrays nearer the Sun. Above and below the orbital plane, so that sunlight still reaches Earth and other worlds, undiminished. But the energy derived would have to be converted into some storage medium for transport. Because wiring between distant solar arrays and Earth would be impossible. Some kind of energized plasma perhaps. Which could be hauled back to earth orbit stations and converted to electrical power, and then send down high tension cables. Safer then trying to land tankers fully of super heated plasma.

    In the end, it will have to be some from of energy that isn’t derived from Earth’s resources. And doesn’t raise heat levels, at all or not very much. But all forms of mechanical work does that. So this must be minimalized as much as possible. Fortunately, micro electronic has help a lot. You can’t image how much heat your PC would create, if it used vacuum tubes. Besides it being as big as a city block, and needing 100s of kilowatts of power. Moving information around the globe, instead of physical things, has also vastly reduced energy usage.

    But as long as labor cost is such a concern. Energy will continue to be wasted, transporting goods that could be made closer to where they’re needed. Rather than from half way around the world, where the politically impoverished make them for very little pay. Other than shipping food, that can’t be domestically grown. International trade wastes more energy than anything else, that we could reduce.

  15. CrankyGeeksFan says:

    I am concerned about the long-term effect of the earthquakes on existing homes, buildings, and other structures. Many of these buildings are brick, and they probably aren’t many built to stringent earthquake specifications as in Japan or California since these buildings until only recently were in seismically “quiet areas”. Building inspections will have to stepped up in the areas of Arkansas, Ohio, etc.

  16. Rick says:

    Another earthquake in Oklahoma last sunday. Pretty big one too, lasted 3 minutes.

  17. NewfornatSux says:

    Britain is also sitting on lots of shale gas, as is Canada. Poland too. Looks like there are thousands of trillions of cubic feet of natural gas available. The only thing standing in the way of developing them is environmentalists, yet people say the fossil fuels are going to run out soon. There is at least a hundred year supply. I’d prefer to postpone the decision to when technologies are cheaper. I’m sure the Americans of 100 years ago are thankful that they didn’t have to pay more for energy because of predictions that the energy would run out. The same guy who predicted Peak Oil also predicted Peak Gas, but somehow that prediction has been ignored.