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Earth Power United Kingdom Science

Minor Quakes In the UK Likely Caused By Fracking 318

Stirling Newberry writes "Non-conventional extraction of hydrocarbons is the next wave of production, including natural gas and oil – at least according to its advocates. One of the most controversial of the technologies being used is hydraulic fracture drilling, or 'fracking.' Energy companies have been gobbling up Google ad words to push the view that the technology is 'proven' and 'safe,' while stories about the damage continue to surface. Adding to the debate are two small tremors in the UK — below 3.0, so very small – that were quite likely the result of fracking there. Because the drilling cracks were shallow, this raises concerns that deeper cracks near more geologically active areas might lead to quakes that could cause serious damage."
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Minor Quakes In the UK Likely Caused By Fracking

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  • by koan ( 80826 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @11:03AM (#37934894)

    Even with a major earthquake occurring because of "fracking" it's a non-issue compared to the damage done to the water table by the chemicals used in the process, toxic for centuries afterwards.

  • Interesting idea: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gma i l .com> on Thursday November 03, 2011 @11:03AM (#37934898) Journal

    What about doing something like fracking, except using non-toxic chemicals, for the purpose of intentionally causing minor earthquakes to release the stress that would otherwise lead to a big one? I bet many Pacific Rim countries would be interested in gradually defusing major earthquakes...

  • Re:Groundwater (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LehiNephi ( 695428 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @11:11AM (#37935006) Journal
    There's a difference between "potential" and "actual". IIRC (and please correct me if I'm wrong), there has yet to be a case where fracking has actually been shown to have impacted groundwater, despite the claims of the local population. This is likely because the oil/gas companies do lots of environmental studies before they even start drilling--they don't just start punching holes in the ground willy-nilly.
  • Re:Groundwater (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kryptonian Jor-El ( 970056 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @11:14AM (#37935046) [] This isn't what I had in mind when I asked for 'firewater'
  • Re:Groundwater (Score:5, Interesting)

    by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @11:28AM (#37935320)

    My brother in law works on a rig. Last month his crew got a hammerbit stuck in the hole. They pumped hundreds of barrels of "soap" and water into the hole to try to free it. This well was communicating with others which started to leak this fluid. So now you have gas wells that are 50 years old pumping lubricating fluid instead of gas. Since that is another company, they will likely get sued. Had it been a water well they homeowner might not have the resources to do that. They ended up using explosives to free the pipe but they lost the bit and a few collars. The rig started to sink due to the vast amount of fluid pumped into the ground. How much environmental study was involved in all that?

  • Re:Groundwater (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 03, 2011 @11:50AM (#37935696)

    Of course, there are parts of the world where people routinely fire automatic weapons into the sky in celebration. Those bullets all have to land somewhere and there's a potential for that somewhere to be a kid's head. Does it actually happen often? I'll be honest, I don't know, it's not relevant to my point. The point I'm making is that, until one of those bullets falls into one of their own kids' skulls, the guys firing the guns don't care about the potential for it to happen, just like you don't seem to care about the potential damage we're doing to a required resource.

    Oh sure, they can angle their guns away from occupied areas, but that doesn't stop the winds hundreds of feet above from carrying the bullets back into the crowd. Likewise, a series of environmental studies can indicate that there is enough soft earth between the rock being fracked and the rock surrounding the water supply, but that doesn't stop the shockwave from fracking one rock from traveling through that soft earth, right to a weak spot or crack in those rocks acting as a barrier/container for the water supply. What happens then?

    Yes, everything can look solid from the surface; shallow digging can only show us the outer surface of the rock, sonogram, and x-ray can only give us a top-down view. There may be faults below the surface that can only be noticed from other angles, from which we can not observe; in fact, it is much more likely that we would miss a fault and it is that we would notice it, simply given the fact that there are many more angles from which we can NOT examine the subject than there are angles from which we can.

    If you still don't care about the potential damage, I've got a bridge to sell you. Don't worry, I'm only potentially scamming you, it hasn't been proven yet.

  • by EasyTarget ( 43516 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @12:46PM (#37936594) Journal

    I've never understood why we are so damn eager to extract more substances from the Earth.

    It's because capitalism is a one way process; it's not a system.(*)

    It takes a finite resource (such as oil reserves, or coal, or iron) which belongs to all of us (we all share one planet) and assigns it to an owner (generally via opaque means rooted in corruption, even in the US). This owner then exploits it to produce a profit. Some of which might come back to us but most of which is shared out amongst an elite as part of their ongoing petty powergames. This is the same elite who have shaped our society for several hundred years now to believe that making profit is an unquestionable good and that growth is something that can happen infinitely.

    The damn eagerness is just the effect of long-term greed; and while profit is king this process will continue until all the natural resources are depleted, and the human population falls or otherwise adapts to the level which renewable supplies can accommodate.

    But I doubt if many come here for a lecture on Marxism.

    (*) Economics, on the other hand, IS a system.
    - Capitalism is the dominant processes that currently operates in the economic system. Without a counterprocess to resupply it, however, it will inevitably run down as it's resources run out.

  • Re:Groundwater (Score:5, Interesting)

    by microbox ( 704317 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @12:52PM (#37936716)
    Yeah right. Google for affirming gasland. I read through some of the arguments from each side, and it looks like a canonical example of astroturffing by well funding public relations firms.
  • Re:Groundwater (Score:4, Interesting)

    by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @01:07PM (#37937026)

    The movie Gas Land has been discredited

    Kinda like how people arguing for the existence of climate change, evolution, and the link between tobacco and cancer have been "discredited?"

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev