Oil drilling possible 'trigger' for deadly Italy quakes

Apr 15, 2014
The central street of San Carlo village is damaged following a powerful earthquake that shook Italy's industrial and densely populated northeast on May 20, 2012

Italy's Emilia-Romagna region on Tuesday suspended new drilling as it published a report that warned that hydrocarbon exploitation may have acted as a "trigger" in twin earthquakes that killed 26 people in 2012.

The scientific was commissioned after the quakes amid popular anger over alleged links to activities, particularly an oil field, a gas storage facility and a plant in the area.

The report said that activity at the Mirandola oil fields "may have contributed to trigger the Emilia seismic activity" although it did not "induce" it.

It found that the last previous tremor in the region and the first quake on May 20 were "statistically correlated with an increase of extraction and injection activity" at one of the Mirandola fields.

Extraction and injection "may have contributed, adding a minute additional load, to the activation of a pre-stressed fault system already close to the conditions required to produce a significant earthquake," it said.

The report was authored by an international committee of scientists led by Peter Styles, a professor of applied geophysics at Keele University in Britain.

It recommended further studies, a system of evaluation for any new hydrocarbon or geothermal exploration activities and more monitoring for existing ones.

It also said that an "operational traffic light system" should be created to warn any drilling facilities about rising stress levels in the faults.

Based on the report, local authorities in Emilia-Romagna said they were extending a ban on drilling activities in the earthquake area to the entire region.

"All new exploitation will be banned in the region until new data are gathered," said Paola Gazzolo, a regional official in charge of land issues.

Small tremors in Britain, Canada and the United States have been linked to the practice of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" for , although none has proved fatal.

Explore further: US geologists link small quakes to fracking

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US geologists link small quakes to fracking

Apr 12, 2014

Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes to the intensely scrutinized drilling method called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas ...

Geothermal power facility induces earthquakes, study finds

Jul 11, 2013

An analysis of earthquakes in the area around the Salton Sea Geothermal Field in southern California has found a strong correlation between seismic activity and operations for production of geothermal power, which involve ...

Recommended for you

US proposes stricter ozone limits

7 hours ago

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced plans Wednesday to strengthen emission regulations for ozone, a smog-causing pollutant blamed for respiratory ailments affecting millions of Americans.

Deforestation drops 18 percent in Brazil's Amazon

10 hours ago

Deforestation in the Amazon rain forest dropped 18 percent over the past 12 months, falling to the second-lowest level in a quarter century, Brazil's environment minister said Wednesday.

The unbelievable underworld and its impact on us all

11 hours ago

A new study has pulled together research into the most diverse place on earth to demonstrate how the organisms below-ground could hold the key to understanding how the worlds ecosystems function and how they ...

Toolkit for ocean health

14 hours ago

The ocean is undergoing global changes at a remarkable pace and we must change with it to attain our best possible future ocean, warns the head of The University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.