'Remarkable' spate of man-made quakes linked to drilling, USGS team says

“This is very peculiar, what’s going on.”

Energywire reports:

A rash of earthquakes in the middle of the country appears to be related to oil and gas drilling, according to a group of researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey.

“A remarkable increase in the rate of [magnitude-3.0] and greater earthquakes is currently in progress,” the scientists state in the abstract for their study. “A naturally-occurring rate change of this magnitude is unprecedented outside of volcanic settings or in the absence of a main shock.”

The surge in temblors is “almost certainly man-made,” they found, and all of the potential causes they explore in the paper relate to drilling, or more specifically, deep underground injection of drilling waste.

Casting the quakes as a trend could make it more difficult for oil and gas companies and state regulators to discount the earthquakes related to drilling as rare, isolated events. That, in turn, could provide new ammunition to critics who want stronger regulations, or even a ban on drilling.

The group of scientists, led by geophysicist William Ellsworth, is to present the paper next month at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America in San Diego. The abstract for their study has already been posted…

8 thoughts on “'Remarkable' spate of man-made quakes linked to drilling, USGS team says”

  1. Tremors are caused all the time by water pumping for geothermal power stations in Iceland. You can see when they are doing pumping as the online IMO earthquake map lights up east of Reykjavik.

    But no environmentalist complains about geothermal because of man made earthquakes because geothermal is virtuous.

  2. Excellent point. Some scientist could take a random sample of those extant wells -all of them if it is not too expensive – and see if there was an increase in seismic activity. That would test for the “You’re more likely to notice something if you are looking for it” bias.

  3. That’s all we need – a novel global disaster scenario based on the 1964 disaster of a disaster movie “Crack in the World,” with which we can replace ‘climate change’ when the people start noticing that the climate is NOT noticeably changing.
    How long is panic ‘sustainable?’

  4. Again, blame drilling and do not prepare for a major quake over the fault responsible for the worst quakes in US history. A very deadly distraction.

  5. “almost certainly man-made”

    Is this the same “almost certainly” that is used when describing the effects of man-made CO2 on the Earth’s temperature?


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