Groundbreaking Study Shows Direct Link Between Fracking and Earthquakes
Geoscientists have revealed a direct link between hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and earthquakes in Canada. The groundbreaking study found that earthquakes can even occur intermittently over several months after drilling operations end.
Seismicity of northwestern Alberta, Canada for the period 1985−2016. The size of the dot correlates to the magnitude of the earthquake. Xuewei Bao and David Eaton
According to a new study published in the journal Science, seismic activity in northwest Alberta over the last five years were likely caused by fracking, in which chemically-laden water and sand is injected at high pressures into shale formations to release oil or gas.
The article, Fault activation by hydraulic fracturing in western Canada, was authored by Xuewei Bao and David Eaton from the University of Calgary.
For the study, the researchers mapped out more than 900 seismic events near Duvernay shale drilling sites around the Fox Creek area dating back to December 2014. This included a 4.8-magnitude earthquake in January in northern Alberta that's likely the strongest fracking-induced earthquake ever.
They found that there were two main causes for quakes. The first was immediately from pressure increases as the fracking process occurred.
"We were able to show that what was driving that was very small changes in stress within the Earth that were produced by the hydraulic fracturing operations," Eaton told DeSmogBlog.
The second cause comes from pressure changes from lingering fracking fluid. According to the Globe and Mail, a fault shakes when fluids infiltrate tiny spaces in the porous rock and increases pore pressure.
"If that pressure increases, it can have an effect on the frictional characteristics of faults," Eaton told the Globe and Mail. "It can effectively jack open a fault if the pore pressure increases within the fault itself and make it easier for a slip to initiate."
Per the study abstract, "Patterns of seismicity indicate that stress changes during operations can activate fault slip to an offset distance of >1 km, whereas pressurization by hydraulic fracturing into a fault yields episodic seismicity that can persist for months."
Eaton told DeSmogBlog that a "majority of injection-induced earthquakes are actually linked to hydraulic fracturing" in Canada.
The new study is not related to the recent spate of induced earthquakes currently rocking midwestern states, most notoriously Oklahoma. Those quakes are not likely caused by fracking itself but from the injection of large volumes of oil and gas wastewater into deep underground wells.
"The key message is that the primary cause of injection-induced seismicity in Western Canada is different from the central United States," Eaton told the New York Times, adding that their study could help regulators craft guidelines to avoid more human-caused earthquakes.
Disturbing footage of a snake in Goa, India vomiting an empty soft drink bottle highlights the world's mounting plastic pollution crisis.
By Melissa Hellmann
When her eldest son was in elementary school in the Oakland Unified School District, Ruth Woodruff became alarmed by the meals he was being served at school. A lot of it was frozen, processed foods, packed with preservatives. At home, she was feeding her children locally sourced, organic foods.
By James O'Hare
There are 20 million people in the world facing famine in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen. In developed nations, too, people go hungry. Venezuela, for instance, is enduring food insecurity on a national level as a result of economic crisis and political corruption. In the U.S., the land of supposed excess, 12.7 percent of households were food insecure in 2015, meaning they didn't know where their next meal would come from.
Artists are taking the climate crisis into frame and the results are emotional, beautiful and stirring.
So you've seen the best climate change cartoons and shared them with your friends. You've showed your family the infographics on climate change and health, infographics on how the grid works and infographics about clean, renewable energy. You've even forwarded these official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration graphs that explain the 10 clear indicators of climate change to your colleagues at the office.
As the Trump administration moves full speed ahead on boosting the oil and fossil fuel industry, opposition to increased pipeline construction is cropping up in different communities around the country.
By Simon Evans
Last Saturday, two dead whales washed up on the coast of Suffolk, in eastern England, and a third was spotted floating at sea.
What happened next illustrates how news can spread and evolve into misinformation, when reported by journalists rushing to publish before confirming basic facts or sourcing their own quotes.
By Monica Amarelo and Paul Pestano
Sun safety is a crucial part of any outdoor activity for kids, and sunscreen can help protect children's skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Kids often get sunburned when they're outside unprotected for longer than expected. Parents need to plan ahead and keep sun protection handy in their cars or bags.
By Joe McCarthy
A lot of people take part in community clean-up efforts—spending a Saturday morning picking up litter in a park, mowing an overgrown field or painting a fence.