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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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NRC Committee Finds That Humans Are Triggering Quakes
15 June 2012 2:03 pm
Pumping all manner of fluids into deep rock formations has triggered earthquakes strong enough to cause a bit of damage while seriously rattling the local populace, a committee of the National Research Council (NRC) concluded in a report released today.
Fracking for natural gas and oil, formally known as hydraulic fracturing, has been responsible for only one or two triggering episodes, the committee found. But hundreds of felt quakes in 13 states have been produced by the deep injection of wastewater from fracking and other industrial activities, as well as the creation of geothermal energy sites, the enhanced recovery of oil and gas, and even the simple extraction of oil and gas. And capturing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from power plants and pumping it into the ground "may have potential for inducing larger seismic events," the committee found, because much larger volumes would be involved.
The committee also concluded that drillers could better anticipate and ameliorate the seismic hazards of fluid injection. The basic science is well understood, it noted, but forecasting the hazard from induced earthquakes and taking steps to minimize the risk have been frustrated by the dearth of detailed geologic and geophysical observations of specific sites.
Assessments of the risk of induced seismicity "should be undertaken before operations begin in areas with a known history of felt seismicity," the committee wrote. Such pre-injection studies have generally not been done in the past, although some new state regulations are moving in that direction. And of course, "Further research is required."