Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Earthquakes in Oklahoma?

Some of my family members in Oklahoma are all atwitter on the social networks about the current swarm of small earthquakes rattling the windows in Central Oklahoma.  There have been several of these swarms in the past few years, and I remember my reaction when I heard about the first fairly large quake in the area a few years ago.

"Earthquakes in Oklahoma?  That can't be right."

It's not like they are completely unheard of, but until recently they've been pretty rare.  So of course there are plenty of people ready and willing to offer their explanation for what's going on (or place the blame for it, as the case may be).  Here's an example from yesterday: http://sincedutch.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/1142013-fracking-earthquake-swarm-in-central-oklahoma/

I'm sure the writer of the above is not the first, nor will he be the last to link fracking and earthquakes.  After all, fracking is this year's big environmentalist bugaboo.  It's being blamed for all sorts of stuff.

I'm happy to admit that the connection between fracking and swarms of low level earthquakes is an interesting THEORY, so far not backed up by hard research or evidence as near as I can tell. It might be right, it might not be. We'll see.

Reading the above article, though, leads me to another possible theory. IF the connection between earthquake swarms and fracking is actually there, is it possible that the overall effect is in the long run positive? Think about it for a minute.  The largest earthquake in recorded North American history was the New Madrid quake of the early 19th Century, long before any form of drilling or fracking ever occurred. Maybe the many little quakes allegedly being caused by fracking processes are actually releasing the build up of tension in the tectonic plates in small, manageable doses spread over large areas instead of one cataclysmic release at a single focal point like New Madrid.
Inject a little slurry, loosen up those tight plates a bit and maybe we will avoid another "Big One."  Would it not be better for everyone if a lot of windows got rattled over a large area and a long period of time than if every major structure in St. Louis, Louisville, Memphis, and Little Rock were collapsed at one time?

 I think I'm going to call this idea the "Simmons 'Fracking as Global WD-40' Theory." You have my permission to disseminate it under this title as you see fit.

 Now, I realize that proving the connection could be tough, but that's not my job. I came up with the theory.

Does that make me an expert?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome, flames are not. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. Show me your homework. Have fun, but don't make me moderate the comments, please.