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Thread: Were Texas earthquakes due to drilling?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Were Texas earthquakes due to drilling?

    Summary:
    This month there have been five small earthquakes within seven days in Cleburne, Texas. They are the first recorded quakes in Cleburne's 140-year recorded history. The current issue is whether they are due to natural occurrences or to natural gas drilling in Cleburne.

    AP News, 6/12/09:
    Drilling might be culprit behind Texas earthquakes

    For people interested in a very detailed account of events, ("play-by-play", if you will)--
    From the Cleburne Time-Review, in reverse chronological order:

    Cleburne to work with SMU on earthquake research
    Quake news stirs action
    UPDATED: Fourth ground rumble hits Johnson County, Cleburne
    Third earthquake shakes area residents
    Quake probably not caused by drilling activity


    Questions:

    • Do you think that the Cleburne CM is going about the correct way in handling this issue? If not, what should be done differently?

    • When and how should the Johnson County government become more involved?

    • Should the State government be become involved? The Federal Government?

    • Do you feel that the quakes are linked to the drilling? (What is your level of knowledge in geology, seismology, Texas topography... related fields?)

    • Should the city of Cleburne make contingency plans for revenue in case it is determined that drilling must be reduced or stopped?

    _____

    Monkey wrench:
    The Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant is about 25 miles from Cleburne.

    Some recent news about the power plant:
    Hearing begins for possible plant expansion
    Storm forces Comanche Peak nuclear power plant to reduce output


    Question:
    Could the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant be linked to the Cleburne earthquakes?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I'm no geologist, but I suppose it is possible. There is a long history of subsidance related to mining. While not actually an earthquake, the results are comparable. It will be interesting to see what the study shows, and what the implacations may be. Keep us posted on this story.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Probably. you might earthquakes caused by subsidence, not unlike what you would get sometimes out in west Texas and even, to a lesser extent, in southeast Texas a few decades ago (and starting to show up again). Earthquakes like this, given the geology of north-central Texas, would be consistent with subsidence resulting from petroleum exploration and fracking in combination with horizontal drilling in particular.

    SMU & TCU are the wrong universities in Texas to be talking to about this. They need to bring in folks from Texas Tech and Texas State that have some real expertise in petroleum exploration and geology. Talking exclusively to a petroleum geologist from TCU or SMU (take a look at the donor histories) is like talking to a wolf while the wolf is still sitting in the hen house with a feather still stuck to his lip.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    Interesting. I hope not. While I'm the last person to ever say "drill baby drill," many of my clients are on the Barnett Shale which is allowing them to make many needed public improvements.

    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    SMU & TCU are the wrong universities in Texas to be talking to about this....Talking exclusively to a petroleum geologist from TCU or SMU (take a look at the donor histories) is like talking to a wolf while the wolf is still sitting in the hen house with a feather still stuck to his lip.
    yes.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I have been in a loop about it. Will talk when i can.

  6. #6
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seana View post
    Summary:
    This month there have been five small earthquakes within seven days in Cleburne, Texas. They are the first recorded quakes in Cleburne's 140-year recorded history. The current issue is whether they are due to natural occurrences or to natural gas drilling in Cleburne.
    ...
    Could the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant be linked to the Cleburne earthquakes?
    It is certainly possible. Welcome to humans and their impact. Dams do it, drilling does it. The nuke plant I'd be less inclined to point to.

    Now.

    Should everybody and their brother become involved? This is a natural and typical reaction. Here in Colo we are becoming more involved with these corporations and their impact, and I'd recommend following our discussions on drilling and fracking.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    As a local, I'm interested but don't feel it is primarily due to the drilling. Gas drilling does not introduce large voids into the ground. The resource is certainly useful.

    It's a little disengenuous to say the "first recorded quakes in 140-year history" when the technology to record such small quakes (barring written accounts) has been widespread for perhaps (generously) 40 years or so... Kinda like media saying "arctic ice at lowest extent evah!!!1!!one!!" in 2007 when we've only had satellite observations since the late 1970s.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    Sounds like a stretch to me.

    Do you think that fleas on an elephant's back could give it muscle cramps?

  9. #9
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Random Traffic Guy View post
    As a local, I'm interested but don't feel it is primarily due to the drilling. Gas drilling does not introduce large voids into the ground. The resource is certainly useful.

    It's a little disengenuous to say the "first recorded quakes in 140-year history" when the technology to record such small quakes (barring written accounts) has been widespread for perhaps (generously) 40 years or so... Kinda like media saying "arctic ice at lowest extent evah!!!1!!one!!" in 2007 when we've only had satellite observations since the late 1970s.
    Actually they go back farther than that, and include volumetric data. This is how we know Arctic ice is disappearing - the volume.

    And we also know that reservoirs cause small earthquakes, but nonetheless your 'technology' point has a point.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally posted by Random Traffic Guy View post
    It's a little disengenuous to say the "first recorded quakes in 140-year history" when the technology to record such small quakes (barring written accounts) has been widespread for perhaps (generously) 40 years or so...
    The ^^quote is from the first source I cited; what you're saying is that the reporting in and writing of that AP article was "a little disingenuous." Entirely possible.


    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I'm no geologist, but I suppose it is possible. There is a long history of subsidance related to mining. While not actually an earthquake, the results are comparable. It will be interesting to see what the study shows, and what the implacations may be. Keep us posted on this story.
    I'm unable to stay completely on top of the story and study(ies). Since the date I started this thread, NYC has had record rainfalls and flooding, causing untold millions of dollars in damage, and I must track all that instead...

    Anybody from the region want to take over?


    Quote Originally posted by fringe View post
    Do you think that fleas on an elephant's back could give it muscle cramps?
    Indirectly, yes--if the beast happens to be predisposed towards muscle cramps. (And many elephants are.) The fleas can agitate the elephant's nerve receptors, which in turn activate the nerve transmitters, which in turn can cause the cramps.

    I believe that this analogy is on topic, though some members' responses to it may not necessarily be.

    __________


    More news (6/16/09) @Cleburne earthquakes:
    http://www.cleburnetimesreview.com/l...167161222.html
    Some highlights:
    Southern Methodist University representatives installed a seismograph in Cleburne on Monday morning [6/15/09] and plan to install three more around town later this week.

    The instruments measure ground motion by collecting 200 samples per second, said Dr. Brian Stump, SMU chairman of geological sciences.
    . . .
    Stump and Dr. Chris Hayward, SMU Geophysics Research Projects director, set up the device along with Ashley Howe, a junior majoring in earth science.

    The instruments will stay in place for two weeks, at which time they will decide whether to move them, or leave them in place, Stump said.
    . . .
    The U.S. Geological Survey records such activity but generally doesn’t pursue investigation of events measuring less than a magnitude of three, Stump said.

    Placing seismographs in town should provide a fuller picture of any seismic activity occurring in the area, he said.

    Officials plan to measure activity for up to six months, Hayward said.

    Independent Research Institute in Seismology officials loaned 10 seismographs to SMU for that amount of time, he said.

    Others have been placed south of DFW International Airport in response to area quake activity recorded in October. News of last week’s events in Cleburne prompted SMU officials to place the instruments in town as well, Stump said.

    SMU is conducting its research independently although city officials are cooperating by providing storage locations and information to help the team, said City Manager Chester Nolen.

    City officials await results from the study to determine what else needs to be done, Nolen said.

    The city council, in a June 9 emergency meeting, voted to hire a geophysicist to study the recent earthquakes.

    Officials subsequently decided to work with SMU instead, Nolen said, and “... at at this point, there’s no cost to the city,” Nolen said. “We get the research we need without spending money.”
    SMU? Recall:
    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    Talking exclusively to a petroleum geologist from TCU or SMU (take a look at the donor histories) is like talking to a wolf while the wolf is still sitting in the hen house with a feather still stuck to his lip.

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