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Arkansas Earthquakes Could Be Man-Made 264

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the boom-shocka-locka dept.
oxide7 writes "The small earthquakes that struck north central Arkansas could be from a combination of natural and man-made activity. Some experts think that pumping water into the ground as part of the extraction process of natural gas could cause local seismic events."
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Arkansas Earthquakes Could Be Man-Made

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  • Wow... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @10:28AM (#35347028) Journal
    The theory that fracturing the local geology by pumping in a lubricant under extremely high pressure might cause some sub-surface movement certainly sounds preposterous to me...
    • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @10:36AM (#35347084)
      People have been saying that the Earth moved for them after a lubricant pumping episode for a long time now.

      Sorry, it's a very boring day debugging someone else's application.

    • Re:Wow... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @10:42AM (#35347128)

      The theory that fracturing the local geology by pumping in a lubricant under extremely high pressure might cause some sub-surface movement certainly sounds preposterous to me...

      But... but... but... the Earth is so BIIIIG and we are so SMAAAALL. How can we possibly have an effect on it!

      It's a liberal conspiracy! They're just trying to get research grants! Alex Jones told me so!

      • So Alex Jones is now a conservative and on the side of corporations who want to drill using fracking?

        Ohhhkay..

      • Amusingly, human activity - mainly water and oil pumping - causes several times more movement annually in the Los Angeles/Anaheim area than actual seismic activity most of the time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jbengt (874751)

      Typical low information content article.

      TFS quotes "Some experts think that pumping water into the ground as part of the extraction process of natural gas could cause local seismic events." but leaves out the next sentence from TFA "But the area hasn't been studied enough, they say, to know for sure."

      Then, TFA gets it wrong by claiming "The scale is logarithmic, meaning a magnitude 5 earthquake is 10 times as powerful as a magnitude 4" when in reality the amplitude [wikipedia.org] of a magnitude 5 earthquake is 10 times la

      • Re:Wow... (Score:4, Informative)

        by pyrr (1170465) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @11:37AM (#35347568)

        In Colorado in the 1960s, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal used a ~12,000 ft. deep dry well to inject toxic waste related to chemical weapons the army was manufacturing. There was a bizarre spike in activity and magnitude starting not long after the well was put in service, which continued for about a decade after they stopped injecting the waste, and actually started pumping some back out. There were a few magnitude 5+ quakes, which caused structural damage in the Denver-Boulder metro area.

        It could be mere coincidence that seismic activity spiked right about the time the well was put in service, but how likely is that, really? I know, correlation and causation and all, but it was serious enough that folks who lived around here back then still talk about the tremors, and there haven't been any events like that in recent decades. Some of those who remember tend to freak-out at any mention of starting injection recovery in the gas fields north of Denver.

        Maybe any gas companies who want to do the hydraulic extraction should pay for any and all damage that appears to correlate to their activity? Arkansas would be a good choice for a study, they'd just have to hire a fleet of trucks to tow the mobile homes back to their pads when they done get shook off and roll down into the holler.

    • by kenj0418 (230916)

      Well, at least the sign at the Missouri-Arkansas border that said 'If this state's a rockin' don't come a knockin' " makes more sense now.

  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @10:31AM (#35347048)

    Dams do this do, e.g. the Hoover Dam and the recent quake in China. Read more at "Top 5 Ways to Cause a Man-Made Earthquake": http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/06/top-5-ways-that/ [wired.com]

    • by MrNemesis (587188) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @11:34AM (#35347548) Homepage Journal

      For an even more impressive example, read about the Vajont Dam in Italy.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vajont_Dam [wikipedia.org]

      An engineering marvel for its time, the dam was built based on shoddy geology - there was a faultline running up one side of the adjacent mountain. In a nutshell, filling up the dam forced water into the fault, which eventually caused half the mountain to fall into the dam. The dam was well built enough to not break - but the water spilled out over the top and killed about 2000 people.

      However, the hand-wringing of the article is a bit unwarranted. It's well known that pumping stuff in and out of rock is bound to cause seismic instabilities. Magnitude 4-5 stuff (assuming they mean moment magnitude? They don't say) is generally considered small fry.

    • As mentioned in the parent post, a very similar swarm of earthquakes was triggered at Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Colorado, when "they" tried disposing [usgs.gov] of chemical weapon waste by pumping it underground.
  • by Stradenko (160417) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @10:40AM (#35347118) Homepage

    The 4.7 and 4.3 were kind of freaky (4.7 especially, as evidenced by some ridiculous 911 calls [arkansasmatters.com] from the neighboring city of Conway, ~13 miles south). Everything under 4 or so is just noise.

    I just hope science proves it's these injection wells, so I have someone to sue when my house comes crashing down and I'm out the 10% deductible in my earthquake rider.

    All that said, local opinion seems to be that tornadoes are scarier than earthquakes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      The people who are making huge profits from these activities will be long gone by that time. All the private funds, private equity, Koch brothers would have pocketed all the profits and sold the "investments that have the proven track record of profitability" to pension funds, mutual funds and general stock market. But what people actually buy are "past performance is not a predictor of future performance" along with all the past liabilities. So the tax payers will ultimately bail out the unfortunate pensio
    • by drpimp (900837)
      Here is So Cal. anything under 6 is typically just noise. Although the fact the quakes were shallow probably made them felt slightly stronger with you being that close. And I agree, I would much rather be shaken up, then blown around.
  • by jbeaupre (752124) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @10:47AM (#35347178)

    Have Christopher Walken or Grace Jones been seen in the area? They are trying to create a monopoly on ... on ... ? What does Arkansas produce again?

  • by Seumas (6865) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @10:57AM (#35347244)

    Everyone knows that the government has developed several variations on Tesla's earthquake machines [excludedmiddle.com] (HAARP, etc) and has been using them all over the world (Haiti, anyone?) to cause "natural" disasters. Sheesh!

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      So if I'm going to poop on HAARP I need numbers. In a documentary (in quotes?) on the subject it is asserted that palpable physical vibrations are produced by typical remote sensing techniques at relatively low power levels, much lower than HAARP's actual avowed output. Part of the concept of HAARP is the ability to get more energy out of the ionosphere than is put in (by HAARP). Is there any particular physics-based reason HAARP can not produce seismic activity?

      • by rubycodez (864176)
        Yes, its power output is way too low, less than half a megawatt. There is a new system with 3.6 MW output being built, but even that is much less than shortwave transmitters for global voice/music broadcasts of other countries. To be blunt about it, a bunch of crackpot conspiracy theorist utterly ignorant of basic physics make up all kinds of nonsense about HAARP, but the truth is that it is for ionosphere research, and works by exciting a small portion of it (other hf and HAM radio operator do this eve
  • Mother earth is getting mighty pissed at us, me thinks...
    • by rubycodez (864176)
      how about instead of a fictitious "mother earth", accepting faults in MO and AK have been shaking OK for a very long time. Amazing how people with no knowledge whatsoever of even recent history react to every natural event as if it's some new thing and a result of punishment for man's actions. It's getting so that even a find of a few hundred dead birds over a few square miles makes headlines, when all throughout history thousands of birds at once have been killed in storms. Seasonal shellfish dyings do
  • In other news, china detonated a nuclear bomb to test its arsenal in secret, but the surprise of their lives when a big tsunami went and crashed into sri lanka, killing hundreds of thousands....details at 11....

  • As someone from the area, I think there's more going on than that. I was visiting my grandmother (who lives in West Memphis, AR) a couple of weeks ago, and I heard several loud explosions. They actually created shock waves that we could feel. When asked about it, she told me that the local authorities have said that there is some kind of classified stuff going on for the department of homeland security. They supposedly have a whole area that looks like an Iraqi town for training purposes.

    As to the explo

  • PBS did a piece in February (Frontline, Need To Know?) about this very issue, frakking, and the potential for earthquakes was mentioned although their focus was on the illegal use of diesel and other compounds in the frakking fluids.

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