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New research links surge in Oklahoma earthquakes to drilling activity

  • A recent surge of low-magnitude earthquakes in Oklahoma probably is the result of the underground disposal of vast quantities of wastewater generated by oil and gas extraction, according to a new study published today in the journal Science.
  • The researchers also calculated that four of the highest-volume wells in Oklahoma are capable of triggering ~20% of recent central U.S. quakes, and found that such induced quakes could potentially occur more than 30 km from the well.
  • The Cornell geophysics professor who led the study says the results suggest regulators and oil companies should avoid disposing of wastewater near major faults and do a better job monitoring the activity.
  • Among energy firms with a significant Oklahoma presence: CHK, CLR, APA, DVN, SD, EOG, MRO, OKE, OKS, GPOR, WPX, WMB, WPZ, LPI, CWEI, NFX, NGL, COG, WLL, NBL, MPO, PQ, XEC.
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Comments (52)
  • ratherblucky
    , contributor
    Comments (12) | Send Message
     
    I know this won't happen, but someone could look at this as a positive. Creating many smaller quakes is far better than waiting for longer for a much bigger one.
    3 Jul 2014, 03:27 PM Reply Like
  • rusty13
    , contributor
    Comments (200) | Send Message
     
    Do you trust this incompetent & inept administration to make any smart decisions?
    3 Jul 2014, 03:30 PM Reply Like
  • Choosh
    , contributor
    Comments (427) | Send Message
     
    Just what I was going to go with, call it annealing?
    3 Jul 2014, 05:13 PM Reply Like
  • Hendershott
    , contributor
    Comments (1621) | Send Message
     
    Rusty, so far this administration has pointedly avoided interfering with fracking. I trust this bunch a lot more than I trust McConnel, Boehner, Cruz, the Koch representatives, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, Chris Christi, Bobby Jindal or Mitt Romney.
    3 Jul 2014, 07:55 PM Reply Like
  • aeroguy48
    , contributor
    Comments (756) | Send Message
     
    Hender.. this pointedly avoiding interfering is because it is on private land! you know the American way, that obama can't get his hands on
    3 Jul 2014, 09:18 PM Reply Like
  • rusty13
    , contributor
    Comments (200) | Send Message
     
    Passing the NatGas Act would have been a blessing for this country in so many ways.. Instead we flare our gift into the atmosphere while importing dirty, expensive Oil from our enemies! You think they care how they pull it out of the ground? Who's watching them?
    3 Jul 2014, 09:45 PM Reply Like
  • Hendershott
    , contributor
    Comments (1621) | Send Message
     
    aero. It's called regulation and what you can and cannot do on private land is regulated by the federal, state and local governments. Obama and co. have left fracking regulation to the states. i.e. avoided interfering.
    3 Jul 2014, 10:25 PM Reply Like
  • W.A. Cowan
    , contributor
    Comments (28) | Send Message
     
    Katie Keranen is most likely a brilliant individual and the article most recently that she has published is most likely based on innovative mathematical models that mere mortals like myself will never be able to comprehend. That still does not stop me from having an opinion. There has been a phenomenal spike in seismic activity in OK in recent years. Wastewater injection wells have been known to cause seismic activity but the rate is very low (i think like one per one thousand injection wells drilled). And finally, the historical pattern has been that the seismic activity occurs very close to when the well is drilled, with respect to time. Some of these recent seismic occurrences in OK have happened after a rather long period between drilling and the subsequent tremors. Makes me for one wonder if something else is going on around these faults that folks are not tracking?
    3 Jul 2014, 11:50 PM Reply Like
  • auto44
    , contributor
    Comments (3300) | Send Message
     
    Consider the weight of the tectonic plate that moves to cause an earthquake. Then consider the weight and force of fracking fluid. You might as well strap a mosquito to your barn and expect it to move the barn. Does any one remember what scientific study found the world to be flat or which one discovered that the earth was the center of the universe? The sophisticates of the day once concluded that malaria was caused by swamp gas. Also remember that hysteria sells and as PT Barnum once said"there is a sucker born every minute, and never give a sucker an even break". Maybe it was one a minute in his day it is a much higher frequency today.
    4 Jul 2014, 08:25 AM Reply Like
  • Craig Cooper
    , contributor
    Comments (2405) | Send Message
     
    Venting / flaring is at historical low-end range and will decrease further as bottlenecks are eliminated, technology improves and new regulations kick in.

     

    http://1.usa.gov/1ohpbrZ
    4 Jul 2014, 09:14 AM Reply Like
  • heglimp
    , contributor
    Comments (607) | Send Message
     
    Hendershott,

     

    This concerns salt water injection wells not fracing of production wells. While a lot of fraced wells produce copious amounts of water, the large majority of wells (stripper wells) in OK produce a high percent of salt water compared to oil. The salt water is then reinjected in a disposal well.
    4 Jul 2014, 12:48 PM Reply Like
  • heglimp
    , contributor
    Comments (607) | Send Message
     
    W. A. C.,

     

    Agree with your comment. Only research and time will tell if ever.
    4 Jul 2014, 12:50 PM Reply Like
  • Blue22
    , contributor
    Comments (372) | Send Message
     
    Specifically, which one of those 20 million salt water return wells are you referring to? Oh yeah. There used to be an ocean down there!
    25 Jul 2014, 04:17 PM Reply Like
  • Gtoz
    , contributor
    Comments (247) | Send Message
     
    The OK Corral came after the OK Coral.
    26 Jul 2014, 05:22 PM Reply Like
  • Derrick Hand
    , contributor
    Comments (37) | Send Message
     
    Yep......a small earth quake now while population is low is better than a large one later when the population has grown. Heck the oilfield should be congratulated rather than scolded by these so called "ExSperts". Typical hype by environMentalists to scare the public and disparage oil companies.
    3 Jul 2014, 03:32 PM Reply Like
  • Jake2992
    , contributor
    Comments (831) | Send Message
     
    lol ok mr scientist......
    4 Jul 2014, 03:21 AM Reply Like
  • auto44
    , contributor
    Comments (3300) | Send Message
     
    Liberal jibberish coming out of Cornell???? What a shock!!!! Or if you like, aftershock!!
    3 Jul 2014, 03:33 PM Reply Like
  • xdentist
    , contributor
    Comments (11) | Send Message
     
    Keep placing your heads in the sand. No need for science.
    3 Jul 2014, 03:41 PM Reply Like
  • James Sands
    , contributor
    Comments (2431) | Send Message
     
    Science has its valuable place, just never as an ultimatum.
    3 Jul 2014, 04:00 PM Reply Like
  • donhamde
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    You make a good point, that is, the earthquakes have been there for millenia and will continue to be there whether there is fracking or not. There is nothing in the article that I can find that shows a correlation between fracking and earthquakes. What happens is that people will grab headlines and argue in small groups without any facts or real science that fracking is wrong. What we need is for oil companies to dispose of the wastewater as carefully as possible, to let communities know how they are doing it and to seek feedback on their methods of disposal, etc. We also need to understand that we need to be energy independent or we will continue to be hostage to people who want to destroy our way of life, who hate Christians and Jews and in many cases want to kill them, and that many school districts can use money from oil companies to lower local taxes. So let's work together to get the job done rather than use arguments that merely show that two events coincide in time together. The study might just not be any more relevant than a study that shows that something very bad also occurs at the same time that children happen to drink milk. That does not mean that milk is bad. I do not see that a correlation has been shown in this study that determined that fracking caused earthquakes. They were here before the fracking. Does everyone understand that? And they were here at various levels of danger to their respective communities over the years.
    3 Jul 2014, 07:34 PM Reply Like
  • lgilham
    , contributor
    Comments (19) | Send Message
     
    Seems like a wonderful opportunity for companies that can treat the water inexpensively. Companies like BioLargo bringing new treatment technology on line should be panting to get into cleaning this up and adding to the bottom line.
    3 Jul 2014, 03:43 PM Reply Like
  • deercreekvols
    , contributor
    Comments (7130) | Send Message
     
    Any increases in earthquakes in PA or OH? Fracking is taking place in many states. Has there been any studies done to show similar findings.

     

    Cornell professor couldn't study fracking in NY because governor Cuomo won't lift ban.
    3 Jul 2014, 04:00 PM Reply Like
  • tgar13
    , contributor
    Comments (193) | Send Message
     
    Actually there was another study out of Ohio linking particular wells near faults to tiny earthquakes
    3 Jul 2014, 11:38 PM Reply Like
  • Choosh
    , contributor
    Comments (427) | Send Message
     
    Looking back over time there is an almost 100% correlation between the number and size of earthquakes and the number and size of articles and comments about earthquakes. Therefore I must conclude that your comments almost certainly contribute to earthquakes. Keep it up.
    4 Jul 2014, 01:59 PM Reply Like
  • mmhudd
    , contributor
    Comments (18) | Send Message
     
    I am go with a good opportunity for some companies to clean the water a do something useful with it....could be a great chance for investment dollars.
    3 Jul 2014, 04:22 PM Reply Like
  • ziggysdad
    , contributor
    Comments (42) | Send Message
     
    It's just the left again. They hate energy and will put out trash for Obama. No earthquakes in PA! Also no pipeline from Canada.
    3 Jul 2014, 04:37 PM Reply Like
  • Derrick Hand
    , contributor
    Comments (37) | Send Message
     
    These so called scientists need to study history before making claims like these. New Madrid earthquakes that occurred in the Mississippi Valley between 1811 and 1812 LONG BEFORE OIL drilling and salt water injection. When one of these quakes struck the region, several eyewitnesses reported seeing the Mississippi River flowing backward for several hours over water falls!! This phenomenon was caused by a “fluvial tsunami” in the river. The quake also caused an area subsidence, ranging from (4.8–19.2 ft in depth, which invited the river’s water in and formed several lakes. Caddo in TX and LA and the Reelfoot Lake in TN.
    3 Jul 2014, 04:46 PM Reply Like
  • Boomer PE83
    , contributor
    Comments (5) | Send Message
     
    "Subsurface pressure data required to unequivocally link earthquakes to injection are rarely accessible. Here we use seismicity and hydrogeological models to show that fluid migration from high-rate disposal wells in Oklahoma is potentially responsible for the largest swarm."

     

    Seems to be somewhat pointing in that direction but not conclusive. Cornell after their recent performance w/ Dr. Ingraffia (sic) is the one institution I would be most distrustful of. I apologize to this group of researchers if I wrongly judge them guilty by association. The conclusions, to inject farther from the faults, would seem to be a logical solution. The question is "how far"?

     

    Point of fact, the alleged cause of the earthquakes is not drilling activity as the headline reads. The alleged cause is what the industry does with the produced water. That may appear to be a word play on the cause, but other option exist on disposal of produced water.
    3 Jul 2014, 04:53 PM Reply Like
  • Brucejfern
    , contributor
    Comments (1495) | Send Message
     
    First, there are liberal scientists acting on a no more fossil fuels agenda meaning we have to question every scientist's motivations from this day forward. Scientists may get into a huff and say they are impartial but the climate change debate has been hijacked to the point where liberal scientists call anyone disagreeing with them luddites. That is no way to carry on an honest debate therefore the debate on climate change has become dishonest.

     

    I would like someone to explain why climate change on Saturn and Jupiter causes winds to pickup by hundreds of miles an hour and there are no human beings there to screw up those planets. An honest debate must establish a baseline between climate change that would be within a normal range and then attempt to determine just how far (if any) manmade effects are throwing climate change outside the norms.

     

    Liberals don't want to do that because it would most likely result in an immaterial difference thus losing the debate. We all know this is about government power over the individual. Can't liberals accept the destruction of the healthcare system as quite enough for one liberal presidency?
    3 Jul 2014, 05:09 PM Reply Like
  • BlueOkie
    , contributor
    Comments (7377) | Send Message
     
    Follow the money and it'll tell you what is what. Cut off funding and no more liberal trash coming out as fact. What egos liberals have to think man could change climate and cause earthquakes
    3 Jul 2014, 06:12 PM Reply Like
  • Anne Bonney
    , contributor
    Comments (105) | Send Message
     
    Very weak article. "Probably" doesn't cut it. Fracking and well disposal has been going on for 70+ years. OK has a history of quake swarms. What is with this seriously disingenuous statement, "The researchers also calculated that four of the highest-volume wells in Oklahoma are capable of triggering ~20% of recent central U.S. quakes, and found that such induced quakes could potentially occur more than 30 km from the well"? So....what about the other 80%????? [Sound of crickets...] Frankly, I'd love to sue the bejesus out of some company for the damage to my home and stress caused when my bed starts dancing in the middle of the night, etc, etc, etc. But, cannot prove that it is related. Oh, BTW, no one except the tinfoil hat crowd, and there are very few here, believe anything from such a place as Cornell. Most here see this sort of 'research' as another attempt at liberal manipulation to make current energy sources highly controlled and taxed. AKA, if you tell a lie enough times, it becomes the truth. I call BS. Oh yeah, with a view towards full disclosure, long too many oil and gas stocks to list.
    3 Jul 2014, 06:24 PM Reply Like
  • Kal Telage
    , contributor
    Comments (289) | Send Message
     
    THE RESULTS OF THE STUDY SUGGEST.................. Operative word SUGGESTS!
    In research parlance it means there is a possibility based on the data that can range from plausible to remote, but the data do not meet a level of confidence to indicate a cause and effect relationship. Suggests is the marker found in the discussion sections of generally weak research finding. It is usually followed by, the author SUGGESTS further research!
    3 Jul 2014, 06:49 PM Reply Like
  • jmpbrown
    , contributor
    Comments (41) | Send Message
     
    This is all a bunch of bull. If they used GasFrac a company that uses liquid natural gas for fracking and no water. Then there is no waste water to get rid of end of story. What does everyone have their head in the sand? You are right where the hell is the government on this; as always doing what they are told.
    Yes I do own GasFrac stock why because years ago I had read how bad water was in fracking. The same is true for Nuclear power there is not a better answer for global warming, but because of old crap that should have been replaced years ago everyone is afraid of the future. If you want to know whats is best check out Terra Power by Bill Gates and get on the band wagon. We are the only ones that can make things happen.
    3 Jul 2014, 07:23 PM Reply Like
  • saltydog
    , contributor
    Comments (469) | Send Message
     
    jmp. most oil/gas wells produce brine water along with the good stuff. some,in there production lifetime, produce much more salt water than oil or gas. gas frac has nothing to do with this situation. i think fracking with lng is crazy. what kind of slop is going to flow back from the well after fracking? i will stay with water/sand fracking cos at least it can be recycled. sorry
    6 Jul 2014, 04:18 PM Reply Like
  • Boomer PE83
    , contributor
    Comments (5) | Send Message
     
    It is also common knowledge that the Oklahoma around Pauls Valley area has the second most active "fault complex area" in the US, behind California. My first recollection on that discussion was in the early 80's. I'm sure it was identified many decades prior. PA, NY, TX, ND, WY, CO, LA don't have the same kind of seismic potential.
    3 Jul 2014, 07:32 PM Reply Like
  • jmpbrown
    , contributor
    Comments (41) | Send Message
     
    I know a gentleman that works on the largest Buffalo in Texas. He told me that when he started there there were no earth quakes. The ranch is so big that they have drilled several oil wells in the past eight years, and the more they drill the more earth quakes they have. What is they say the proof is in the pudding. So who is kidding who.
    3 Jul 2014, 07:53 PM Reply Like
  • Boomer PE83
    , contributor
    Comments (5) | Send Message
     
    Looking over the USGS/State of Texas seismicity maps, there are 2 areas that have had 4 quakes of 2.5 magnitude or greater since 1972 (total of 23). Incidentally none of those occurred in the Barnett shale area. There were a group of 4 that occurred in the heart of the West Texas activity and a similar group south of San Antonio (also 4). This data doesn't cover the last 18 months. Keep in mind that is based on a 30 year window. 1972-2012. Sounds like perhaps your friend might not be happy with the O&G development on the land he works? Agendas....Some of my good friends work at GasFrac, it is a good process (uses mostly Propane) and interesting but it has some very serious limitations and challenges. Have you ever tried to truck 200,000 gallons of liquid propane thru a municipality. This volume would supply a fairly small frac. It makes some folks pretty nervous. For the record I like the GasFrac idea in the proper application.
    4 Jul 2014, 12:17 PM Reply Like
  • unclemike7849
    , contributor
    Comments (263) | Send Message
     
    Just curious.........how big is that buffalo? How big is the gentleman's hat?
    4 Jul 2014, 12:28 PM Reply Like
  • aeroguy48
    , contributor
    Comments (756) | Send Message
     
    Its the headline that counts to the low information people.
    3 Jul 2014, 09:22 PM Reply Like
  • Factzplz
    , contributor
    Comments (266) | Send Message
     
    I own ABHD that is introducing its Smart Sponge for removing oil, gas, chemicals from fracking water, so clean it is considered "swimmable and fishable." It has a flow thru water transfer rate equivalent to a fire hose, but the oil is locked in and cannot be squeezed out. The used sponge can be burned with 320# producing a a MW of electricity.

     

    The water is then clean enough to reuse. The same process is used for produced water - no more waste water injection
    4 Jul 2014, 01:42 AM Reply Like
  • heglimp
    , contributor
    Comments (607) | Send Message
     
    Factzplz,

     

    What about the salt water produced from the multitude of well in OK????
    4 Jul 2014, 01:01 PM Reply Like
  • Marcellus Guy
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
     
    Marcellus Guy

     

    If you don't understand the science, you can always force ideology to fill the gap. At least none of you have fallen to the level of "God done it. Humans couldn't cause earthquakes." Some people don't adapt to the world outside their imaginings until forced to. Especially if they hope to make money on the deal.
    4 Jul 2014, 07:48 AM Reply Like
  • auto44
    , contributor
    Comments (3300) | Send Message
     
    Marcellus A whole lot of folks in the world believe in God in one form or another and you have managed to insult all of them. Out side of that I don't have a clue about what you are trying to say. Is there a point here or are you just in the mood to be insulting?
    4 Jul 2014, 08:41 AM Reply Like
  • DoctoRx
    , contributor
    Comments (3072) | Send Message
     
    "The Oklahoman" has a (sort of) rebuttal: http://bit.ly/1ohNupU

     

    Dr. Keranen's Cornell bio shows she's worked in industry and in Oklahoma as well as hanging out at elite universities: http://bit.ly/1ohNupY:
    "Katie Keranen comes to Cornell University from the University of Oklahoma where she has been an Assistant Professor since 2009. Prior to that, she worked at the United States Geological Survey (Earthquake Hazards), Menlo Park, CA and for ExxonMobil Exploration Company as a geophysicist. Keranen earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Geophysics from Stanford University."

     

    From a stock market standpoint, nothing I've seen in the earthquake-related issue changes my investing behavior. Long DVN, UPL, MRO and TDW.
    4 Jul 2014, 11:03 AM Reply Like
  • James Sands
    , contributor
    Comments (2431) | Send Message
     
    Thanks Docto,

     

    Same here, long LPI.
    4 Jul 2014, 11:12 AM Reply Like
  • joe kelly
    , contributor
    Comments (1804) | Send Message
     
    It's very kind that the 2 guys who post as several different people make sure any comment calling liberals "trash" or disparaging President Obama give each other plenty of "likes."

     

    Waiting for the terse email from Seeking Alpha editors telling me this comment was deleting after being reported as offensive by one of the two.
    4 Jul 2014, 10:13 PM Reply Like
  • warrenrial
    , contributor
    Comments (562) | Send Message
     
    What we need to do is a better job at electing a president
    4 Jul 2014, 10:27 PM Reply Like
  • joe kelly
    , contributor
    Comments (1804) | Send Message
     
    No argument from me on that.
    5 Jul 2014, 03:48 PM Reply Like
  • Perkins Cove
    , contributor
    Comments (646) | Send Message
     
    Job too big for one person? We also need better parties and a way to stop big money from running the government. See any of that happening soon? We the People are not angry enough yet, so we get screwed.
    6 Jul 2014, 05:35 AM Reply Like
  • chuck215
    , contributor
    Comments (63) | Send Message
     
    It is wonderful to read insightful articles and comments on Seeking Alpha.

     

    And, politically-oriented comments could be useful if they are relevant to specific investing decisions.

     

    But, political rants detract significantly from SA.
    5 Jul 2014, 03:00 PM Reply Like
  • njbother
    , contributor
    Comments (546) | Send Message
     
    Change the misleading tag line
    5 Jul 2014, 08:17 PM Reply Like
  • Derrick Hand
    , contributor
    Comments (37) | Send Message
     
    News Flash From the WSJ: "A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck 23 miles west, southwest of Tapachula, Mexico, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center."

     

    There is not an injection well within 100's of miles of this area. Many earthquakes in and around the Pacific ocean that have NOTHING to do with SWD injection wells. The Liberals would be howling if there was even one!!
    7 Jul 2014, 07:57 AM Reply Like
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