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27 November 2013 12:59 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
Science has exposed a thriving academic black market in China involving shady agencies, corrupt scientists, and...
Paper-selling agencies flourish in the aura of reputable businesses. For some scientists, it may be difficult to tell...
The new head of the National Center for Science Education promises to "fight the good fight" against attacks on...
Analyses of the H7N9 strains isolated from four new cases show that the virus is evolving rapidly, heightening anxiety...
In 2009, Jack Szostak shared a Nobel Prize for his part in discovering the role of telomeres, the end bits of...
Featuring the first lunar rover in 40 years, Chang'e-3 is seen as an important milestone on China's quest to send a...
Data collected by satellites and floating probes have chronicled a 2-decade rise in the temperature and thickness of a...
Cholesterol, the artery-clogging molecule that contributes to cardiovascular disease, has another nasty trick up its...
- 27 November 2013 12:59 pm , Vol. 342 , #6162
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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."