Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

11 Earthquakes Rock Texas Fracking Heartland in 24 Hours

Energy
11 Earthquakes Rock Texas Fracking Heartland in 24 Hours

This Tuesday a study was released showing that a series of earthquakes outside Youngstown, Ohio, including one strong enough to be felt by area residents, were caused by the fracking operations that have blossomed in the area in the last few years.

Now the eyes are on Texas. In 24 hours Tuesday and Wednesday, the area of Irving, between Dallas and Fort Worth, was hit with a cluster of 11 earthquakes, ranging in magnitude from 1.7 to 3.6. Several of the quakes were felt throughout the metropolitan area, with Irving's emergency operations center receiving hundreds of calls. The Dallas Morning News blog tracked the quakes as they were happening.

Multiple earthquakes this week were felt in the area around Irving, Texas. Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey

Earthquakes, once rare in the area, have been increasing in frequency, with more than 20 since last September, according to StateImpact Texas, a project of two Texas public radio stations. And with Irving sitting on top of the natural gas-rich and heavily fracked Barnett shale deposit as well as the Balcones Fault Zone, many residents and researchers are think it's to blame here too, just as in Ohio.

"The upsurge in quakes started in Texas around the time the oil and gas boom took hold several years ago," reported StateImpact Texas. "Residents in many parts of the state blame the them on wastewater disposal wells, where fluid byproducts of oil and gas drilling are pumped deep into the ground.  Scientists have shown how injecting fluid into the ground can cause earthquakes."

Earlier this year, it reported on nine studies linking drilling and earthquakes in Texas, noting, "The number of recorded earthquakes (most larger than 3.0) has increased tenfold since a drilling boom began several years ago. The Lone Star State is now one of the shakiest in the country, coming in sixth in the continuous U.S. for having larger quakes last year."

“It’s premature to speculate on the cause of this current series of seismic events,” said Brian Stump, Albritton Chair of Geological Sciences at Dallas' Southern Methodist University (SMU), in a statement reported in the Dallas Morning News yesterday. “We’re just getting started. We want to support the local community in understanding these earthquakes, and the team appreciates the cooperation of the city of Irving, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and IRIS [the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Integrated Risk Information System] in helping us get the best information possible.”

SMU studies of three earlier clusters of quakes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 2008 cited wastewater injection wells as a "plausible cause" of those clusters. The USGS said in its report on the Irving quake cluster, "There is evidence that some central and eastern North America earthquakes have been triggered or caused by human activities that have altered the stress conditions in earth's crust sufficiently to induce faulting. Activities that have induced felt earthquakes in some geologic environments have included impoundment of water behind dams, injection of fluid into the earth's crust, extraction of fluid or gas, and removal of rock in mining or quarrying operations."

On the other hand, Craig Pearson of the state's oil and gas regulatory agency the Texas Railroad Commission said fracking wastewater injection wells were not to blame for the quakes because there are no injection wells in Dallas County where Irving is located. But The Daily Beast noted that more than 2,000 fracking sites are close to Dallas County, along with some of its more than 200,000 injection wells.

The Daily Beast also pointed out, "This cluster of quakes is taking place almost directly beneath the Exxon-Mobile world headquarters, which is located in Irving. The company’s CEO, Rex Tillerson, joined a lawsuit last year to prevent a water tower used in the fracking process from being built near his 83-acre horse ranch in a swanky suburban Dallas enclave."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Fracking Confirmed as Cause of Ohio Earthquake

Fracking Bans Pass in Denton, Texas, Two California Counties and One Ohio Town

New Evidence Links Earthquakes to Fracking

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

This image of the Santa Monica Mountains in California shows how a north-facing slope (left) can be covered in white-blooming hoaryleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius), while the south-facing slope (right) is much less sparsely covered in a completely different plant. Noah Elhardt / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.5

By Mark Mancini

If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.

Read More Show Less
Flames from the Lake Fire burn on a hillside near a fire truck and other vehicles on Aug. 12, 2020 in Lake Hughes, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

An "explosive" wildfire ignited in Los Angeles county Wednesday, growing to 10,000 acres in a little less than three hours.

Read More Show Less
Although heat waves rarely get the attention that hurricanes do, they kill far more people per year in the U.S. and abroad. greenaperture / Getty Images

By Jeff Berardelli

Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020

If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.

Read More Show Less

A film by Felix Nuhr.

Thailand has a total population of 5,000 elephants. But of that number, 3,000 live in captivity, carrying tourists on their backs and offering photo opportunities made for social media.

Read More Show Less
Scientists have found a way to use bricks as batteries, meaning that buildings may one day be used to store and generate power. Public Domain Pictures

One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.

Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.

The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.

If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.

The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.

"A solar cell on the roof of your house has to store electricity somewhere and typically we use batteries," D'Arcy told The Guardian. "What we have done is provide a new 'food-for-thought' option, but we're not there yet.

"If [that can happen], this technology is way cheaper than lithium ion batteries," D'Arcy added. "It would be a different world and you would not hear the words 'lithium ion battery' again."

Aerial view of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, Panama, where a new soil study was held, on Sept. 11, 2019. LUIS ACOSTA / AFP via Getty Images

One of the concerns about a warming planet is the feedback loop that will emerge. That is, as the planet warms, it will melt permafrost, which will release trapped carbon and lead to more warming and more melting. Now, a new study has shown that the feedback loop won't only happen in the nether regions of the north and south, but in the tropics as well, according to a new paper in Nature.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods speaks during a press conference after a shooting at Forest High School on April 20, 2018 in Ocala, Florida. Gerardo Mora / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

A sheriff in Florida is under fire for deciding Tuesday to ban his deputies from wearing face masks while on the job—ignoring the advice of public health experts about the safety measures that everyone should take during the coronavirus pandemic as well as the rising Covid-19 death toll in his county and state.

Read More Show Less