Human Activity May Have Triggered Fatal Italian Earthquakes, Panel Says by Edwin Cartlidge, April 17, 2014, sciencemag.org
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly earthquakes that struck the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna in 2012 could have been triggered by the extraction of petroleum at a local oil field.
Fear of human made seismicity has already sparked fierce opposition against new oil and gas drilling efforts in Italy, and some say the report could lead the country’s regional presidents to turn down new requests for fossil-fuel exploration. [Emphasis added]
Italian region says fracking may have caused quakes by 3News.co.nz, April 16, 2014
Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region has suspended new drilling as it published a report that warned that hydrocarbon exploitation may have acted as a
“trigger” in twin earthquakes that killed 26 people in 2012.
The scientific report, published on Tuesday, was commissioned after the quakes amid popular anger over alleged links to drilling activities, particularly an oil field, a gas storage facility and a geothermal energy plant in the area. The report said that activity at the Mirandola oil fields “may have contributed to trigger the Emilia seismic activity” although it did not “induce” it.
It found that the last previous tremor in the region and the first quake on May 20 were “statistically correlated with an increase of extractionand injection activity” at one of the Mirandola fields.
Extraction and injection “may have contributed, adding a minute additional load, to the activation of a pre-stressed fault system
already close to the conditions required to produce a significant earthquake,” it said.
The report was authored by an international committee of scientists led by Peter Styles, a professor of applied geophysics at Keele University in Britain. It recommended further studies, a system of evaluation for any new hydrocarbon or geothermal exploration activities and more monitoring for existing ones. It also said that an “operational traffic light system” should be created to warn any drilling facilities about rising stress levels in the faults.
Based on the report, local authorities in Emilia-Romagna said they were extending a ban on drilling activities in the earthquake area to the
entire region. [Emphasis added]
Report on the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Seismicity in
Emilia Region by INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON HYDROCARBON EXPLORATION AND SEISMICITY IN THE EMILIA REGION, February 2014
Members of the Commission
Peter Styles, Chief of the Commission, Professor of Applied Geophysics, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, United Kingdom.
Paolo Gasparini, Secretary of the Commission, Professor Emeritus of Geophysics, University of Napoli “Federico II”, Napoli, Italy Chief Executive Officer of AMRA Scarl (Analisi e Monitoraggio del Rischio Ambientale).
Ernst Huenges, Head of Section Reservoir Technologies at GFZ (Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum), Potsdam, Germany.
Paolo Scandone, Retired Professor of Structural Geology, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
Stanislaw Lasocki, Professor of Earth Sciences, Head of Department of Seismology and Physics of the Earth’s Interior, Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland.
Franco Terlizzese, Petroleum engineer, General Director for Mineral and Energetic Resource, Ministry of Economic Development, Rome, Italy.
[Refer also to:
September 13, 2013: Failure to Consider Specific and Relevant Studies “is Equivalent to The Death of Knowledge.” Italy judge says deadly L’Aquila quake was foreseeable, experts failed to accurately communicate risk to the public
Farmers drilling ever deeper wells over decades to water their crops likely contributed to a deadly earthquake in southern Spain last year, a new study conducted by Canadian researchers suggests. The findings may add to concerns about the effects of new energy extraction and waste disposal technologies. Nine people died and nearly 300 were injured when an unusually shallow magnitude-5.1 quake hit the town of Lorca on May 11, 2011. It was the country’s worst quake in more than 50 years, causing millions of dollars in damage to a region with an already fragile economy. Using satellite images, scientists from Canada, Italy and Spain found the quake ruptured a fault running near a basin that had been weakened by 50 years of groundwater extraction in the area. During this period, the water table dropped by 250 metres as farmers bored ever deeper wells to help produce the fruit, vegetables and meat that are exported from Lorca to the rest of Europe. [What will happen in frac fields all over the world, as companies cumulatively take more and more and more water that is lost permanently to the hydrogeological cycle?]
Still, it isn’t the first time that earthquakes have been blamed on human activity, and scientists say the incident points to the need to investigate more closely how such quakes are triggered and how to prevent them. [Emphasis added]