What happens underground during hydraulic fracturing by Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum, March 30, 2021, Phys.org
A research team from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) and McGill University in Montreal is investigating what exactly happens underground when the earth in western Canada shakes as a result of hydraulic fracturing activities. The team, headed by Bochum-based Professor Rebecca Harrington, wants to fundamentally understand how earthquakes occur—whether human induced or natural.
“The hydraulic fracturing process is something like a scaled-up laboratory experiment for us,” explains Harrington, who heads the Hydrogeomechanics Group at RUB. “We see what happens when the subsurface is exposed to controlled stress conditions—under natural conditions changes in stress would be much more difficult to study.”
RUB’s science magazine Rubin reports on the findings.
For the purpose of their study, the researchers evaluate records of natural and human induced earthquakes. One of the many data sources are the earthquakes triggered by hydraulic fracturing in a roughly 50 by 50 kilometer area in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin.
The process is used to tap oil or gas deposits that lie deep underground. A mixture of water, sand, and weakly concentrated hydrochloric acid is injected into the ground at high pressure to create cracks in the rock and make it more permeable to extract the gas or oil more easily. This can repeatedly cause earthquakes.
Fluids move not quite as expected
In 2018, a magnitude 4.5 quake occurred very early in the hydraulic fracturing process, when hardly any fluid had been injected.
“This shows that fluids are moving underground in ways we wouldn’t expect,” says Harrington.
The RUB team analyzed this earthquake and several of its aftershocks, the largest of which still reached magnitudes of 4.2 and 3.4, together with their colleagues at McGill University. The two institutions have set up 17 seismic stations in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin and have thus access to a comprehensive data network.
Using these records, the scientists reconstructed the sources of the various quakes and how they had spread underground. They linked the data with information about the hydraulic fracturing process and the nature of the subsurface and the interactions of the fluids with the rock. By means of computer simulations, they modeled the forces that had acted in the subsurface during the quakes.
The conclusion: “Presumably there was a geologically young fault zone in the subsurface, i.e. a network of fractures in the Earth’s crust, which acted as a natural pathway for fluids. The hydraulic fracturing fluid could then flow through the fracture network like a channel,” as Rebecca Harrington describes the process. The fluid flow thus quickly reached the underlying fault, which disturbed the stress structure in the subsurface and triggered an earthquake that was stronger than expected.
Analysis of 8,200 earthquakes is in progress
The German-Canadian team has begun analyzing around 8,200 earthquakes recorded by seismic stations in western Canada between July 2017 and September 2020. The researchers showed that many earthquakes occur at locations where natural geological faults exist in the subsurface with which fluids interact. They also proved that these faults are optimally aligned in the stress field of the Earth’s crust to trigger earthquakes.
“The earthquakes do originate from industrial activities, but once initiated, the geological faults behave pretty much like an earthquake of natural origin,” concludes Rebecca Harrington. “Overall, our studies suggest that there are no fundamental differences between natural earthquakes and earthquakes triggered by hydraulic fracturing. Everything we learn about induced earthquakes can also help us understand natural earthquakes—and hopefully one day help us minimize impacts to people and infrastructure from earthquakes.”
Refer also to:
Scrubbadubbadub! Happy Frac’ing Holidays! Two earthquakes west of Alberta’s Fox Creek Frac Hub: 4.0M on Dec 25; 4.1M on Dec 30. Like a coronavirus, it spreads. Earthquakes Canada already scrubbed the 4.1M; nothing reported in the media or by AER, again. Too busy farting in Post Media’s War Room.
Alberta: AGS confirms frac’ing caused 4.18M earthquake that rattled many homes from Sylvan Lake to Red Deer last March, knocked out power to 4,600 customers, and caused subsequent 3.13M and smaller cluster of quakes. “Complaints of damage from the event were received.” And a water well was damaged by frac’ing near Sylvan.
USGS reports 5 earthquakes, including three of 3.6M, strike Oklahoma, felt 247 miles away in Texas and 168 miles away in Kansas, a week after Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals rules New Dominion LLC must face class-action lawsuit filed by Prague earthquake victims
Shale gas frac’ing wasted ‘millions of taxpayers’ cash’, say scientists; Frac quakes force Tory Gov’t to Ban Frac’ing. Fracking Free Ireland Welcomes the Ban in Press Release to all TDs & MPs while industry spins itself silly
Nikiforuk: New report by BC regulator admits frac quake risk is high with formations “in a near critical state, meaning only small fluid pressure increases are sufficient to cause specific sets of fractures and faults to become critically stressed.” Researchers still can’t say where or why; Public complaints surging as frac quakes escalate. Have you read the small print of your home insurance policy?
Oklahoma Kingfisher-Blaine County line: Another frac hit? Industry-caused damaging earthquake? Officials believe related to oil & gas industry: 3,000 gallons “highly toxic saltwater bubbling to surface every day.” Regulator: “Something you never want to see, is something bubbling to surface like this.”
UK: Cuadrilla moving out! “Frack Free Lancashire is delighted to learn that 35 days after they caused a 2.9ML earthquake which shook the Fylde and the confidence of their investors, Cuadrilla are finally demobilising…. The seismic activity which they provoked has not stopped though, with the 133rd event being recorded on Saturday, five weeks after they last fracked.”
Scientific American: Even if Injection of Frac Wastewater Stops, Quakes Won’t; Oklahoma’s state seismologist, Jacob Walter: 900 fold increase in earthquakes in past decade of oil & gas frac boom is “unprecedented in human history”
Lancashire UK: Cuadrilla apologises over quakes while trivializing the damages to homes and wants to keep frac’ing. What will the frac-greedy politicians and regulator do? “The whole house went backwards and forwards. [It] was a really strong movement.”
University of Calgary seismologists say they make monumental discovery: Increased fluid pressure is main triggering mechanism of fluids injection-induced earthquakes by either reducing frictional resistance of the fault or altering fault loading conditions.
UK, Blackpool: Cuadrilla’s quakes won’t stop even though work ordered stopped. Bigger quake, 2.9M, damages countless homes, 450 residents protest, demand frac ban. Company’s earthquakes keep getting bigger: 2.1M quake, felt by residents, days after previous record set at 1.6M, also felt by residents. Cuadrilla had promised it would keep quakes below 0.5M
Another frac ‘n gag to cover up frac damages? Cuadrilla signs non-disclosure agreement with UK’s national earthquake monitoring agency, British Geological Survey, to ‘destroy confidential documents’ and release operational data only at company’s request
Lancashire frac’ing: 1.6M earthquake stops Cuadrilla’s work “This is a serious issue and we know that seismic activity at similar levels deformed the well bore at Preese Hall, which Cuadrilla failed to report to the relevant authorities for six months.”
4.1M earthquake hits near Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, “rattling homes.” Power out for Esterhazy, Whitewood, Moosomin, Rockanville, Wapella, Tantallon for 2.5 hours. “My mother’s rocking chair started rocking.” Children screamed and cried, “It was scary.” Earthquakes Canada reports it “lightly felt.” Numerous new “undefined” directional wells drilled in area.
Lancashire UK: More frac failures plague Cuadrilla, company tries but fails to seal the well and caused 57 earthquakes. How much methane is migrating into aquifers and homes? “We have little confidence in Cuadrilla’s technical abilities….”
Oklahoma citizens with property in nine central counties (about 400 homes and some businesses) that suffered damage from 2011 earthquakes caused by oil industry waste injection gain class-action status
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Vesta Energy Ltd update on 4.6M fracquake near Red Deer March 4, 2019 that knocked out power to 4,600 Fortis Alberta customers, some reports of damage including to home driveway and underground electrical line.
Rimbey-area landowner, Stan Pederson, experienced damages to driveway and underground electrical line (requires $2,500.00 repair) at time of Vesta’s 4.6M frac quake; is worried area water wells might have been cracked by the quake felt 50 km away. What about cracks to energy well bores? How many are leaking hydrocarbons into groundwater and or to surface because of frac quakes?
4.6M earthquake, 1 km in depth, most powerful yet in central Alberta, hits SW of Red Deer, cracks walls in homes, knocks power out to thousands. Vesta Energy reports quake to AER, shuts down frac’ing. AER investigating. Geological Survey of Canada says looks like fra’cing didn’t do it.
2018. There were more frac quake reports during this year, but Klippensteins law firm (my then lawyers abruptly quit, contrary to the rules of their profession) withheld my website from me for nearly a year, and ignored my concerns and correspondence, so I was unable to post them all. I gave up posting the files I had collected and saved.
Gail Atkinson, earthquake expert: Low-volume fracking found still dangerous; Dutch Court Orders NAM to Immediately Compensate Homeowners in Frac Quake Damages Zone in Groningen for Depreciation even if Homes Not Sold. Will the Corporate Giant Heed the Court? Most Likely Not.
Fox Creek, Alberta Frac Quakes start up again; New Study by Standford Scientists: Small earthquakes at frac sites may be early indicators of bigger quakes to come; Surprising Finding: Arkansas earthquakes mostly caused by hydraulic fracturing, only some by wastewater injection, None caused by trucks
4.2M earthquake rattles Oklahoma state-wide, Felt also in western Arkansas & Wichita, Kansas, Numerous aftershocks. Mitigation obviously not working. Waste disposal in the Area of Interest had previously been sharply reduced, with no new drilling or fracking
Dutch Quakes Rattle NAM (Exxon, Shell partnership); Judges in Assen rule that NAM is liable for Groningen earthquake victims’ stress; NAM’s Gas Greed and global warming could wipe out Wadden Sea heritage site
CAPP Induced Planned Deflection & Dismissal of Frack Quake Risks & Harms? U of A Study: Human-induced seismicity (leaves out the tens of thousands of small frack quakes) and large-scale (why leave out the medium & small-scale production that’s fracked?) hydrocarbon production in PA, WV, OK, ND, TX, USA and SK, AB, BC, Canada
Texas: New Study by TAMEST, State’s Top Scientists (mostly industry supporters, so findings especially damning): Drilling in Shale causes pollution, earthquakes, billions in road damages annually, billions in trucking industry damages annually, 75% increase in rural crashes involving commercial vehicles. Health & Climate Change Impacts Not Assessed. Why Not? Too terrible?
Questerre’s partner to frac Quebec is Repsol, creator of 4.8M world record frackquake, day of Ernst vs AER Supreme Court of Canada hearing. “The Alberta Model” Knocks Quebec’s People to their Knees: Gov’t of Quebec Takes Your Land & Rights, Gives Them to the Frackers – For Free
USGS Study: Oil drilling may have caused 1933 California 6.4M Long Beach earthquake that killed about 120 people and caused massive damages. “There may be no upper limit” to the size of earthquakes caused by the oil industry
Insurer Lloyd’s Wins Right to Fight New Dominion Lawsuit in N.Y. Over Oklahoma Quake Coverage; Lloyds refusing to pay damages claiming water and chemicals injected for fracing doesn’t qualify as pollution
3.8M earthquake location changed from Yorkton to Esterhazy, Saskatchewan; Numerous injection wells there. Caused two hour power outage for several communities. Unbelievable quote by seismologist Dr. Honn Kao, Geological Survey of Canada: “Man-made activity will not cause this kind of magnitude event unless it’s nuclear explosion”
Another 5.6M Earthquake Hits Frac Ravaged Oklahoma: Mitigation Obviously Not Working! Quakes Increasing, No Matter How Many Injection Wells Shut Down or Injection Volumes Reduced. State Of Emergency Declared for Pawnee County. 58,628 people felt the quake, as far as 2,323 km away in Boston, MA
EPA: Oil industry likely to blame for Texas tremors, even if state regulator continues to deny it. EPA alarmed at amount of earthquake activity in Dallas/Forth Worth area and “the public health hazard it could create”
Known risk of earthquakes caused by oil and gas development, BC Hydro worries about fracking unconventionals near dams, specifically coalbed methane and shale gas. “Alberta Offers Lessons In Keeping Oil and Gas Industry ‘Safe’ From A Public Endangered By Fracking”
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B.C. ‘enhances’ earthquake monitoring at oil & gas wells after last year’s fracking shake, 4.6 quake last year largest on record in B.C.; 4.8 on day of Ernst vs AER hearing at Supreme Court of Canada largest in Alberta so far
AER allows Repsol to resume fracking after causing world record 4.8M frac quake (felt 280 km away near Edmonton) in AER’s Fox Creek Blanket Approval Frac Frenzy Free-for-All Experiment. But, Repsol appears too shaken to resume
New news or old? Frac’ing, not waste injection, causing earthquakes in Western Canada. Diana Daunheimer calls out U of Calgary’s David Eaton: “So why are you getting the details on this issue so very wrong Mr. Eaton?”
Frac Waste Quakes Make Time Magazine: The U.S.’s New Earthquake Capital: Oklahoma. “Some seismologists say that even if all disposal activity stopped in the state immediately, there could be earthquakes for decades.”
5.1 M: Oklahoma frac waste quakes rumbling bigger & bigger as USGS predicted. Children scurry under school desks, “and it was great,” say administrators. Quake related? Oklahoma City supermarket evacuated because of possible gas leak
Frac Hell in Oklahoma: Endless quakes. “There’s no lack of conversation. There’s a lack of action.” Plumber blamed for gas leak in elementary school. Company says boiling oilfield waste alternative to injection wells, breathable air be damned
Edmonton’s 630CHED Jespersen Show Interviews Jessica Ernst on her Supreme Court of Canada Hearing vs AER & Dr. Jeffrey Gu on the 4.8M Earthquake at Fox Creek, Alberta (day of Ernst’s Supreme Court Hearing)
NINE STUDIES: US Geological Survey (USGS), University Colorado (UC), Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS), Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory (LBNL) studied sudden man-made earthquakes in Oklahoma, California, Pennsylvania, Ohio, found fracing is the causation
Updated because the frac quakes go on & on & on: Oklahoma again orders oil & gas drillers to reduce amount of frac waste water injected. Why? The natural gas leak & home explosion in Oklahoma City? Where will the frac waste go?
More lies & frac fraud? Why did AER’s Darin Barter (now NEB) suggest trucks to blame for citizens feeling frac quakes at Cardson? Why not tell the truth? Why are regulators and “experts” so loath to publicly disclose fracing’s many public safety risks?
AER Frac Pilot Project: Earthquakes, tax increases, water restrictions, double homicide, spills and accidents shake Alberta town’s faith in fracking; Aging sour facilities in deregulated Fox Creek a big worry for council; AER’s FracQuake Red Light stops Chevron only 16 days; Families moving out
Dutch Court Suspends Gas Production on earthquake fears; Pennsylvania Insurance Dept Issues Quake Notice: Fracking Exclusion Not Allowed, “Endorsements that attach to homeowners insurance policies in this Commonwealth should cover all earthquakes, whether believed to be ‘naturally occurring’ or caused by ‘human activity’”
Oklahoma Insurance commissioner clarifies “man-made” earthquake policies: 92% of earthquake claims denied by insurers, “Until a legal ruling is made, it is generally assumed that the earthquakes are not man-made” What a lovely escape for frac’ers, always nature’s fault for industry’s crimes and harms.
Eight Industry Leaders to Present at Catastrophe Response Unit Seminar for “all insurance claims management, adjusters and industry personnel” includes feature presentation: “Fracking Induced Earthquakes”.
Quakes in Gas Fields Ignored for Years, Dutch Safety Agency’s report a relevant read for any fracking zone; Fox Creek frac quakes make AER play deregulation with you and your loved ones: “Red Light = Green Light”
After whopping 4.1 earthquake, Oklahoma regulators were finally fracking fed up, ordered injection well shut down; In Alberta, after 4.4 global frac quake record and aftershocks, it’s “No Duty of Care” frac as usual, harms be damned
Fracking Quakes Pose Added Risks but Oil and Gas Companies Refuse to Share their Collected Seismic Data. “In low seismic environments like Fox Creek where the natural earthquakes are infrequent, the hazards from an induced seismic event can exceed the hazards from a natural source”
New BC OGC Report: From August 2013 to October 2014 Fracking directly caused 193 earthquakes (11 felt on surface), 38 more caused by waste injection, in Montney basin area surrounding Dawson Creek and Ft St John
Goldenkey CFO regarding Lethbridge Penny Project: “We’ve heard many things and we may give up this one” and suggested frac waste water injection nothing to worry about even though it has been proven to cause damaging earthquakes
Sneaky buggers! The 272 earthquakes found by Canadian regulators to have been directly caused by hydraulic fracturing, officially reported in August 2012, are excluded, as well as the many caused by frac’ing in the USA to mid-2011, long before this map was created. Why are only the quakes caused by Cuadrilla in the UK included on the map?
Why are authorities hiding that hydraulic fracturing (not just waste water injection) is directly causing earthquakes?
UK Prime Minister David Cameron: ‘UK fracking will be safe’ – ‘There is no question of having earthquakes and fire coming out of taps’ Pffffft, just another lying big-oil-pimping politician.
Earthquakes from onshore gas drilling threaten a disaster, warn residents of Dutch city, Residents of the Dutch city of Groningen are up in arms over onshore gas drilling that has triggered earthquakes, damaging homes and sending property prices crashing
Spanish earthquake in Lorca ‘triggered by groundwater extraction’, A major earthquake in Spain that killed nine people and destroyed hundreds of homes was triggered by groundwater extraction, a scientific study has found
Earthquake threats won’t stall fracking in B.C., industry officials say Shows us who really regulates industry: Industry.
The gas field was discovered in 1956 and production began in 1962. Over the next 14 years, roughly 600×106 m3 of water, or 106 ton per km2, were injected. …
Beginning in 1976, a series of large earthquakes was recorded. The first significant earthquake occurred on April 8, 1976 at a distance of 20 km [12 miles] from the Gazli gasfield boundary. The earthquake magnitude measured 6.8. Just 39 days later, on May 17, 1976, another severe earthquake occurred 27 km [17 miles] to the west of the first one. The magnitude of the second earthquake was 7.3. Eight years later, on March 20, 1984, a third earthquake occurred 15 km [9miles] to the west of the second earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.2. … Aftershocks occurred in a volume surrounding the three hypocentres. These earthquakes are the strongest of all the known earthquakes in the plain of Central Asia. …
There was no clear relationship between the location of the earthquake hypocenters and any previously known active tectonic structures.
Closer investigation showed that the earthquakes had created new faults.
… In all these cases, the result of human interference was to change the state of stress in the surrounding volume of earth. If the stress change is big enough, it can cause an earthquake, either by fracturing the rock mass—in the case of mining or underground explosions—or by causing rock to slip along existing zones of weakness.
The situation in regions of hydrocarbon recovery is not always well understood: in some places, extraction of fluid induces seismicity; in others, injection induces seismicity.
… Even minor actions can trigger strong seismicity.
… The amassed data indicate that the Gazli earthquakes were triggered by the exploitation of the gas field.
In regions of high tectonic potential energy, hydrocarbon production can cause severe increases in seismic activity and trigger strong earthquakes, as in Gazli, Uzbekistan.
In regions of lower tectonic stress, earthquakes of that magnitude are less likely, but relatively weak earthquakes could occur and damage surface structures.