The Earth Will Swallow You: Fracking & Man-Made Earthquakes

Do ye feel secure that He Who is in heaven will not cause you to be swallowed up by the earth when it shakes?

– Qur-an 67.16

According to the Gutenberg-Richter Relation, a series of small earthquakes suggests that a larger one may take place in the same area. Ten 2.0s suggest that there may be a 3.0. Ten 3.0s suggest that there may be a 4.0.

Until 2008, Oklahoma experienced an average of one to two earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater each year. (Magnitude-3.0 earthquakes tend to be felt, while smaller earthquakes may be noticed only by scientific equipment or by people close to the epicenter.) In 2009, there were twenty. The next year, there were forty-two. In 2014, there were five hundred and eighty-five, nearly triple the rate of California. Including smaller earthquakes in the count, there were more than five thousand. This year, [as of April 2015] there has been an average of two earthquakes a day of magnitude 3.0 or greater.

Then, do they not look at what is before them and what is behind them of the heaven and earth? If We should will, We could cause the earth to swallow them

-Qur-an 34.9

Hydraulic Fracturing (“Fracking”)

the process of drilling into the earth and then pummeling rocks with a high-pressure mixture of water and other ingredients to released gas trapped inside

In recent years, other states with oil and gas exploration have also seen an unusual number of earthquakes. State authorities quickly suspected that the earthquakes were linked to disposal wells. In Youngstown, Ohio, in 2011, after dozens of smaller quakes culminated in a 4.0, a nearby disposal well was shut down, and the earthquakes stopped. Around the same time, in Arkansas, a series of earthquakes associated with four disposal wells in the Fayetteville Shale led to a ban on disposal wells near related faults. Earthquakes were also noted in Colorado, Kansas, and Texas. There, too, relevant disposal wells were shut down or the volume of fluid injected was reduced and the earthquakes abated.

Although disposal wells have been used for decades, the new dewatering process has led to a dramatic increase in how much water is being disposed of. (In the state, the water used in the initial stage of fracking accounts for less than ten per cent of the water pumped down disposal wells.) In Oklahoma today, an average of about ten barrels of water comes up for every barrel of oil. Holland said, “We’re talking about billions of barrels, and it has to go somewhere.” Todd Halihan, a professor of geology at Oklahoma State University, in Stillwater, told me, “We’re injecting the equivalent of two Lake Hefners”—Oklahoma City’s four-square-mile reservoir—“into the ground each year, and we don’t really understand where that water is going.

Recently, a 4.2 and a 4.0 and about a dozen smaller quakes shook Cushing, Oklahoma, a town of several thousand people that is known as the Pipeline Crossroads of the World; fifty-four million barrels of oil are stored there underground. A well near Cushing had been drilled into the bedrock. “Is that a bad place for an earthquake to occur?” Halihan said. “You bet it is.”

[A rich man’s] people said to him, “Do not exult. Indeed, Allah does not like the exultant…

And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.”

Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him of generations those who were greater than him in power and greater in accumulation [of wealth]? But the criminals, about their sins, will not be asked.

And We caused the earth to swallow him and his home. And there was for him no company to aid him other than Allah , nor was he of those who [could] defend themselves.

– Qur-an 28.76-81

Sinkholes form from human activity, such as the collapse of abandoned mines and salt cavern storage in salt domes in places like Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. More commonly, sinkholes occur in urban areas due to water main breaks or sewer collapses when oldpipes give way. They can also occur from the overpumping and extraction of groundwater and subsurface fluids.

Sinkholes can also form when natural water-drainage patterns are changed and new water-diversion systems are developed. Some sinkholes form when the land surface is changed, such as when industrial and runoff-storage ponds are created; the substantial weight of the new material can trigger an underground collapse of supporting material, thus causing a sinkhole.

 

 

And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.


 

Sources

The Recitation, http://www.quran.com

Galchen, Rivka.  “Weather Underground.”  The New Yorker.  13.04.2015. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/04/13/weather-underground

“Sinkhole – Artificial Processes”.  Wikipedia.  Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinkhole#Artificial_processes

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