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posted by hubie on Wednesday November 23, @04:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-feel-the-earth-move-under-my-feet dept.

The state's Railroad Commission is investigating whether the 5.4-magnitude quake last week was a natural event:

The Railroad Commission Texas, which regulates the state's oil and gas industry, is investigating a 5.4-magnitude earthquake that rocked communities in West Texas last Wednesday, The Texas Tribune reports. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a drilling technique common in the area that is known to cause earthquakes.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred on November 16, just west of Pecos, Texas. This was the state's largest earthquake since 1995 and was felt as far as El Paso. The oil and gas regulatory agency is trying to understand if this was a naturally occurring earthquake or if it was caused by waste water from fracking. Waste water disposal from fracking has dramatically increased the number of earthquakes in Texas. The seismic activity has especially become more common around the Permian Basin in West Texas, where oil and gas production is concentrated, according to the Texas Tribune.

[...] The Texas Tribune previously reported that the number of earthquakes in the state doubled in 2021. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, there were more than 200 earthquakes categorized as 3 magnitude and higher. There were only 95 earthquakes reported in Texas in 2020, according to the Bureau's data.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by PiMuNu on Wednesday November 23, @07:52PM (6 children)

    by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 23, @07:52PM (#1281326)

    > Injuries, deaths, and massive property damage are a small price to pay as long as the rich can keep raking in their massive profits.

    From []

    5.0–5.9: Can cause damage of varying severity to poorly constructed buildings. Zero to slight damage to all other buildings. Felt by everyone.

    Where is the problem?

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  • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @09:14PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @09:14PM (#1281335)

    From TFA:

    Communities near hydraulic fracturing sites are at risk from more than just rumbling ground. A study this past January connected fracking to premature deaths of people who live near the sites. Fracking is known to pose significant health risks: The sites contaminate nearby water sources [], and fracking leaks carcinogenic pollutants [] into the air and water. Fracking can also release PFAS into the environment [], chemicals linked to a variety of health issues.

    There's also the "what's good for the goose" angle [] that never seems to be followed.

    • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Thursday November 24, @08:36AM

      by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 24, @08:36AM (#1281432)

      Sure, but this is and should be captured by existing legislation. Most industrial processes release toxic chemicals if not handled correctly therefore ban all industry?

  • (Score: 2) by ilsa on Wednesday November 23, @09:46PM

    by ilsa (6082) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 23, @09:46PM (#1281340)

    Hopefully nothing more than inconvenience, but without being at ground zero, I have no idea for sure.

    There's also issues involving chemical contamination but I guess that's not a problem either for anyone that doesn't live there.

  • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday November 24, @03:01AM (1 child)

    by Reziac (2489) on Thursday November 24, @03:01AM (#1281381) Homepage

    Also, if fracking is the cause, explain Alberta.

  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday November 24, @02:49PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 24, @02:49PM (#1281483) Journal

    Where is the problem?

    If the activity continues (especially if it continues to increase), it'll likely create bigger earthquakes which can kill people. My take is that this sort of thing has a scaling factor of roughly 30 []. That is, for 30 earthquakes of a given magnitude N, you'll see one earthquake of magnitude N+1.

    Energy goes up as 10^1.5 (which is almost a factor of 32) per one delta. It's the motion that goes up by a factor of 10. The interesting thing is that the power law seems to apply well to the frequency of earthquakes, which decline by similar amounts as one increases in the magnitude scale. Stuck faults tend to decline in frequency by a factor of 10, while slippery faults (and the Oklahoma situation) tend to decline as a factor of 30. That has the consequence that large earthquakes are far more likely on stuck faults than on slippery ones and far larger numbers of small earthquakes happen on the slippery faults.

    The present quake is already at the threshold for damaging earthquakes. Bigger ones have a good chance of killing people despite the low population density of most of the region. But it should be gradual with plenty of opportunity for regulation to intervene. My take also is that once the waste water pumping stops then earthquakes will drastically decline in frequency.