Fracking risks, fact or fiction?

Feb 17, 2012

A Simon Fraser University researcher known for his expertise on naturally occurring hazards will participate Friday in a shake down of the truth about a new form of human-induced earthquakes.

John Clague, an professor, will discuss documented connections between development and earthquakes at a during the 2012 American Association for the Advance of Science (AAAS) conference in Vancouver.

The conference is Feb. 16-20 at the Vancouver Convention Centre (VCC).

Clague’s presentation, Hydraulic Fracturing and Earthquakes in Western Canada, on Feb. 17, is part of Hydraulic Fracturing of Shale: Building Consensus Out of Controversy, a three-hour symposium.

Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of fluids at high pressure into horizontally drilled holes in shale, to create fractures in rock and release natural gas.

The controversial practice has on the one hand, the potential to unleash previously inaccessible natural gas that could provide North America with a relatively clean, affordable source of energy for the next 100 years or more.

On the other hand, some scientists fear hydraulic fracturing could contaminate groundwater, worsen air quality and trigger seismic activity.

Clague stresses the known science behind what potentially causes to trigger earthquakes is so new there are no published studies on the phenomenon.

However, Clague’s overview of documented observations of spatial and temporal coincidences between fracturing and earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains near Fort Nelson, B.C. underscore the need for more research, especially in prone areas.

“To my knowledge, the Horn River area of northeastern B.C., which is an example in my talk of where fracking coincides with earthquakes, is not particularly earthquake prone,” says Clague.

“Yet there are documented observations in this area of fluid pressures causing rocks that are near the threshold of failure to slip, triggering earthquakes. Crustal rocks can be brought to the point of failure by natural forces.”

Explore further: Huge waves measured for first time in Arctic Ocean

Provided by Simon Fraser University

4.5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Duke study offers 7 safeguards for hydraulic fracturing

Nov 17, 2011

A new report by Duke University researchers offers several health and environmental measures for North Carolina lawmakers to consider as they debate legalizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

English tremors blamed on shale 'fracking'

Nov 02, 2011

(AP) -- The only company in Britain using hydraulic fracturing to release natural gas from shale rock said Wednesday that the controversial technique probably did trigger earth tremors in April and May.

Chilling climate-change related news

Feb 17, 2012

A presentation at the world’s largest science fair by a Simon Fraser University earth sciences professor promises to make the skin crawl of even the most ardent disbelievers of the predicted impacts of climate change.

Recommended for you

Huge waves measured for first time in Arctic Ocean

1 hour ago

As the climate warms and sea ice retreats, the North is changing. An ice-covered expanse now has a season of increasingly open water which is predicted to extend across the whole Arctic Ocean before the middle ...

New research reveals Pele is powerful, even in the sky

7 hours ago

One might assume that a tropical storm moving through volcanic smog (vog) would sweep up the tainted air and march on, unchanged. However, a recent study from atmospheric scientists at the University of Hawai'i ...

Image: Wildfires continue near Yellowknife, Canada

7 hours ago

The wildfires that have been plaguing the Northern Territories in Canada and have sent smoke drifting down to the Great Lakes in the U.S. continue on. NASA's Aqua satellite collected this natural-color image ...

Excavated ship traced to Colonial-era Philadelphia

9 hours ago

Four years ago this month, archeologists monitoring the excavation of the former World Trade Center site uncovered a ghostly surprise: the bones of an ancient sailing ship. Tree-ring scientists at Columbia ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4.5 / 5 (4) Feb 20, 2012
You have to ask; "How much damage will Hydraulic Fracturing cause"? Apparently quite a lot! First are the earthquakes... Some 4.0 to 5.0 in scale. Places like the middle of Oklahoma 5.0 . Who pays for the structural damage caused by this method of gas extraction.

There is the Frack-ing site where drill wipes out natural environments where drills are placed, equipment moved in and blasting occurs. It's about as destructive as an open-pit coal mine.
Then there are the CO2 emissions when all of that gas is burned. I'm sorry. I find problems with this "it will last 50 years" solution. It's a placebo for energy needs.

3.1 / 5 (10) Feb 20, 2012
Not to mention the contamination of local streams and aquifers.

The stories of tap water that burns, or that looks like a mix of water & oil pan sludge, are not exaggerated. There are now whole communities where potable water needs to be hauled in in tankers.

And, all of the environmental dangers were known long before the mini-quakes made the headlines.

5 / 5 (3) Feb 20, 2012
I'd say, the fracking risks are real, because many such a contaminations were reported and even incorporated into local statistics and confirmed with EPA. There is nothing to discuss about.
Recently the earthquake connected with fracking lead to the premature close of all drills in England and Oclahoma.

So when some "scientist" begins to claim the opposite, he should be investigated immediately for fraud.
3.4 / 5 (10) Feb 20, 2012
That such facts are abundantly clear has not stopped politicians from willfully ignoring the risks.

Here in Pennsylvania, our Governor, a Koch Bros. puppet, with the aid of a Republican controlled Legislature, has rammed through legislation whereby the Commonwealth will receive minimal revenues, the frackers are absolved of any substantive responsibility for environmental cleanup, and local municipalities have been stripped of standing to act on their own behalf. And, he is now on the verge of lifting the moratorium banning fracking in our State Parks and Forests.

To add insult to injury, the bulk of the gas extracted will be shipped abroad.

As usual, greed prevails.