Date: April 15, 2012
Source: Croatian Times
Abstract: A leading earthquake scientist has warned that the planet could be cracking up after a series of massive quakes in just 48 hours.
Expert Gheorghe Marmureanu - from Romania's National Institute of Earth Physics - says 39 quakes had hit the globe within two days.
The series started with two massive quakes in Indonesia measuring 8.6 and 8.2 on the Richter scale rapidly followed by three more only slightly smaller in Mexico within hours.
"There is no doubt that something is seriously wrong. There have been too many strong earthquakes," said Marmureanu.
He added: "The quakes are a surprise that cannot be easily explained by current scientific knowledge. With the Indonesian quake for example, statistically, there should be one big earthquake in this part of Asia every 500 years. However, since 2004, there were already three quakes with a magnitude of over 8, which is not normal (Croatian Times, 2012).
Title: Fracking Can Cause Earthquakes, But Risk Is Low: Study
Date: June 15, 2012
Source: Google News
Abstract: Certain oil and gas operations that involve injecting wastewater underground can cause earthquakes, but the risk from hydraulic fracturing is generally low, said a US scientific report Friday.
The report by the National Research Council found that the most significant risk of earthquakes is linked to secondary injection of wastewater below ground to help capture remaining hydrocarbons from a petroleum reservoir.
Also, a technique called carbon capture and storage that aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere by capturing, liquefying and injecting them below ground at high volumes, "may have potential for inducing larger seismic events," the report said.
But fracking, which offers the potential to unlock vast quantities of natural gas from shale formations and has come under intense scrutiny from environmentalists, was not a major risk factor for quakes that would be strong enough for people to feel, or above 2.0 magnitude, it said.
"The process of hydraulic fracturing a well as presently implemented for shale gas recovery does not pose a high risk for inducing felt seismic events," said Murray Hitzman, a professor of economic geology at the Colorado School of Mines and chair of the committee that authored the report.
A spokesman for the National Academy of Sciences said the committee members all passed a screening process to rule out potential conflicts of interest, and all agreed with the conclusions in the report.
There are 35,000 wells for shale gas development in the United States today, and only one case has been documented worldwide in which hydraulic fracturing for shale gas was confirmed as the cause of nearby earthquakes, it said.
That case was in the Blackpool area of England in 2011. Fracking was found to have caused a 2.3 magnitude quake in April and a 1.5 quake in May.
Hydraulic fracturing for shale gas production was cited as the possible cause of felt seismic events in Oklahoma in 2011, the largest of which was a 2.8 magnitude temblor, it added.
A total of 13 states have reported "seismic events caused by or likely related to energy development," the report said.
But it noted that a frequent problem in studying such events involves the small size of the quakes and data collection that is poor or lacking, often making confirmation of a link between fracking and earthquakes difficult.
Earthquakes related to primary oil and gas production were more frequent than in fracking -- such cases have been documented at 20 sites in the United States and 18 internationally.
But still, the number of cases was "uncommon relative to the large number of operating oil and gas fields worldwide," said the report.
A key factor in the potential to cause a quake appears to be related to the total balance of fluid introduced below the surface and removed from it, and technologies that control this balance are best, said Hitzman.
"Injection or disposal of wastewater derived from energy technologies into the subsurface does pose some risk for induced seismicity but very few events have been documented over the past several decades," he said.
The study did not examine water quality changes or any potential damage caused by such earthquakes.
Hitzman also noted that the committee found there are no specific regulations against oil and gas operations engaging in fracking over a fault in the Earth, and there are no US laws against causing an earthquake.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) was singled out because proposed projects would involve injecting the largest volumes of fluids below the surface for long periods and therefore may cause bigger earthquakes.
However, there are no major CCS projects underway so the actual risk is difficult to assess, and more research is needed, the report said.
"Human activity, including injection and extraction of fluids from the Earth, can induce seismic events," it said.
"While the vast majority of these events have intensities below that which can be felt by people living directly at the site of fluid injection or extraction, there is potential to produce significant seismic events that can be felt and cause damage and public concern."
The report urged more research to address the
gaps in current knowledge, more work on techniques to help predict such events,
and better use of seismic instrumentation to collect data on risky earthquake
sites in the future (Google News, 2012).
Great Earthquake Triggers Large Aftershocks All Over The Globe
Date: September 26, 2012
Abstract: A Magnitude-8.6 earthquake on April, 11, 2012 set in motion an unprecedented increase in global seismic activity, study shows.
Large earthquakes can
alter seismicity patterns across the globe in very different ways, according to
two new studies by U.S. Geological Survey seismologists. Both studies shed
light on more than a decade of debate on the origin and prevalence of remotely
triggered earthquakes. Until now, distant but damaging “aftershocks” have not
been included in hazard assessments, yet in each study, changes in seismicity
were predictable enough to be included in future evaluations of earthquake
In a study published in this week’s issue of “Nature,” USGS seismologist Fred Pollitz and colleagues analyzed the unprecedented increase in global seismic activity triggered by the Magnitude-8.6 East Indian Ocean quake of April 11, 2012, and in a recently published study in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” seismologist Volkan Sevilgen and his USGS colleagues investigated the near-cessation of seismic activity up to 250 miles away caused by the 2004 M9.2 Sumatra earthquake.
While aftershocks have traditionally been defined as those smaller earthquakes that happen after and nearby the main fault rupture, scientists now recognize that this definition is wrong. Instead, aftershocks are simply earthquakes of any size and location that would not have taken place had the main shock not struck.
“Earthquakes are immense forces of nature, involving complex rock physics and failure mechanisms occurring over time and space scales that cannot be recreated in a laboratory environment,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “A large, unusual event such as the East Indian earthquake last April is a once-in-a-century opportunity to uncover first order responses of the planet to sudden changes in state of stress that bring us a little closer to understanding the mystery of earthquake generation.”
Global Aftershock Study: April 2012: East Indian Ocean Quake Triggers many Distant Quakes An extraordinary number of earthquakes of M4.5 and greater were triggered worldwide in the six days after the M8.6 East Indian Ocean earthquake in April 2012. These large and potentially damaging quakes, occurring as far away as Mexico and Japan, were triggered within days of the passage of seismic waves from the main shock that generated stresses in Earth’s crust.
The East Indian Ocean event was the largest — by a factor of 10 — strike-slip earthquake ever recorded (the San Andreas is perhaps the most famous strike-slip fault). “Most great earthquakes occur along subduction zones and involve large vertical motions. No other recorded earthquake triggered as many large earthquakes elsewhere around the world as this one,” said Pollitz, “probably because strike-slip faults around the globe were more responsive to the seismic waves produced by a giant strike-slip temblor.”
Another clue in the six days of global aftershocks following the M8.6 quake is that the rate of global quakes during the preceding 6-12 days was extremely low. “Imagine an apple tree, with apples typically ripening and then falling at some steady rate,” Stein said. “If a week goes by without any falling, there will be more very ripe apples on the tree. Now shake the trunk, and many more than normal might drop.”
The authors emphasize that the week of global triggering seen after the East Indian Ocean quake has no bearing on the hypothesis advanced by others that the 2004 M9.2 Sumatra, 2010 M8.8 Maule, Chile, and 2011 M9.0 Tohoku, Japan, are related to each other. Instead, the effect of increased earthquakes lasted a week—not a decade.
Sumatra Quake Affects
Faults up to 250 Miles Away
While global triggering of large aftershocks appears very rare, regional triggering is common and important to understand for post-main shock emergency response and recovery. Sevilgen and his USGS colleagues studied the largest quake to strike in 40 years to understand just how great the reach is on aftershock occurrence. After the M9.2 earthquake in Sumatra in 2004, aftershocks larger than M4.5 ceased for five years along part of a distant series of linked faults known as the Andaman back arc fault system. Along a larger segment of the same system, the sideways-slipping transform earthquakes decreased by two-thirds, while the rate of rift events – earthquakes that happen on a spreading center – increased by 800 percent, according to Sevilgen and his colleagues at the USGS. These very large, but distant seismicity rate changes are unprecedented.
The authors investigated two possible causes for the changes in remote seismicity rates: the dynamic stresses imparted by the main shock rupture, which best explain the global triggering in the April 2012 quake case; and the small but permanent stress changes, which best explain this one. The authors found that the main shock brought the transform fault segments about ¼ bar of pressure farther from static failure, and the rift segments about ¼ bar closer to static failure (for comparison, car tires are inflated with about 3 bars of pressure), which matches the seismic observations.Why it Matters
Incorporating the probability of aftershocks into the hazard assessment of an area is important because the damage of even a moderate aftershock sometimes exceeds that wrought by the main event. For example, a M6.3 aftershock five months after the M7.1 New Zealand earthquake in 2010 hit a more populated area, causing 181 deaths and tripling the insured property damage of the main event (EarthSky.org, 2012).
Geologists Say East Coast Earthquakes Travel Farther, Do More Damage Than Thought
Date: November 6, 2012
Source: Fox News
Abstract: Data from the 2011 earthquake centered in Virginia shows East Coast tremors can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought, the U.S. Geological Survey said Tuesday.
The agency estimated about one-third of the U.S. population could have felt the magnitude 5.8 tremor centered about 50 miles northwest of Richmond, which would mean more people were affected than any earthquake in U.S. history. Scientists also found the quake that caused more than $200 million in damage triggered landslides at distances four times farther and over an area 20 times larger than research from previous quakes has shown.
"Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake," USGS Director Marcia McNutt said in a news release about the findings presented at the Geological Society of America conference in Charlotte, N.C.
Researchers used landslides to see how far-reaching the shaking from East coast earthquakes could be. The unexpected jolt cracked the Washington Monument in spots and toppled delicate masonry high atop the National Cathedral. The shaking was felt from Georgia to New England.
According to the findings, the farthest landslide from the quake was 150 miles from the epicenter, a greater distance than any other similar-sized earthquake. Previous similar quakes have resulted in landslides no farther than 36 miles from the epicenter.
Additionally, the landslides from the 2011 tremor occurred in an area of about 12,895 square-miles — about the size of the state of Maryland. Previous studies indicated an area of about 580 square-miles — about the size of Houston — from an earthquake of similar magnitude.
"It's just much more dangerous to have an earthquake at that level back on the East Coast than it would be on the West Coast," said Edwin Harp, a USGS scientist and co-author of the study. "If something big happened, although it's much less frequent, it would tend to damage a lot more buildings because they're probably not quite up to the codes that they are in California."
Geologic structure and rock properties on the East Coast allow seismic waves to travel farther without weakening compared with the West Coast, Harp said.
He said equations used to predict ground shaking might need to be revised now that scientists know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes.
The information also will help with building codes as well as emergency preparedness, the USGS said.
While West Coast earthquake veterans scoffed at what they viewed as only a moderate temblor, the August 2011 quake changed the way officials along the East Coast viewed emergency preparedness. Emergency response plans that once focused on hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and snow are being revised to include quakes.Some states have enacted laws specifically related to the quake, and there is anecdotal evidence of a spike in insurance coverage for earthquake damage (Fox News, 2012).
Kentucky Earthquake Too Deep To Be Spurred By Region's Mining, Blasting
Date: November 12, 2012
Source: Fox News
Abstract: Geologists say the 4.3 magnitude earthquake that shook eastern Kentucky over the weekend was too deep to be induced by the region's underground mining activity.
The epicenter was about 10 miles west of Whitesburg, in the heart of Kentucky's coal country, where underground mining and surface blasting are common.
The head of the University of Kentucky's Geologic Hazards Section, though, says Saturday's quake occurred about 12 miles below the surface, far too deep for underground mining to have been a factor.
Zhenming Wang says it came near the Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zone. That area receives a 4-magnitude quake every five to 10 years.Horton says mining and hydraulic fracturing — used by the natural gas industry — can possibly be a contributor to earthquakes but not in this case (Fox News, 2012).
Title: After 2011 Devastation, California Port Building A
Date: November 22, 2012
Source: Fox News
Abstract: Town leaders in the Northern California commercial fishing village of Crescent City hope last year's tsunami is among the last of many that forced major repairs.
They're spending $54 million to build the West Coast's first harbor able to withstand the kind of tsunami expected to hit once every 50 years — the same kind that hit in 2011 after the massive Japanese earthquake. It sank 11 boats, damaged 47 others and destroyed two-thirds of the harbor's docks.
Since a tidal gauge was installed in the boat basin in 1934, the small port has been hit by 34 tsunamis, large and small. It typically suffers the most damage and the highest waves on the West Coast.
The improvements include 244 new steel
pilings and a dock to dampen incoming waves (Fox
Title: Sea Floor Next To Australia's Great Barrier Reef 'Close To
Date: December 21, 2012
Abstract: The researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Nature Hazards, said the one cubic kilometre slab in the Coral Sea – dubbed the Noggin Block – "eventually will collapse".
The ominous slab was discovered by geologists who have been using 3-D mapping techniques to build a picture of the sea floor along the deepest parts of the reef.
"It is a pretty big chunk of sea-floor [in] the very slow, early stages of starting to break away from the edge of the Great Barrier Reef," said Dr Robin Beaman, a marine geologist at James Cook University.
"If it were to break away catastrophically, that is break away really quickly, what that would do is it would create a surface wave above it. It would actually cause a tsunami. That tsunami would travel across the Great Barrier Reef, it's about 70 kilometres offshore, and it would impact the local area, the North Queensland area."
The Noggin Block, perched on the edge of the continental shelf, is the remnant of an ancient underwater landslide.
Dr Beaman said the slab appeared stable for now and was only likely to move in the near future if there were a trigger such as a very large earthquake nearby. While such an earthquake is "unlikely", it is possible – and the slab will in any case eventually collapse.
"We don't really know when such a block might collapse," he told ABC Radio.
"All I can say is sometime it eventually will." The finding marks the first discovery of an undersea landslide on the Great Barrier Reef."We found this one large block that stood out," Dr Beaman said. "It is sitting on top of a submarine canyon, cutting into the slopes and it is in the preliminary stage of collapse We're not trying to alarm people, but we need to know it is there and what could happen when it falls” (Telegraph, 2012).
Title: Scientists Predict Thousands Will Die From Earthquake Expected
Anytime On US West Coast
Date: March 15, 2013
Abstract: Researchers say a massive earthquake and tsunami could soon strike the Northwest US coast, killing more than 10,000 people, flooding entire towns, and causing economic damages totaling $32 billion.
An alarming report published by the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission warns about the dire effects of the quake and claims that it is imminent and could strike anytime. The report, which was compiled by a group of more than 150 volunteer experts, was requested by the Oregon legislature in order to adequately prepare for the looming disaster.
The last high magnitude earthquake in the region occurred in the year 1700 in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The quake had a magnitude between 8.7 and 9.2, and geologists in 2010 predicted that there is a 37 percent change of another such quake occurring within 50 years. The new report claims that there is a 100 percent chance of a monster earthquake occurring in the region – but scientists don’t know when.
"This earthquake will hit us again," Kent Yu, an engineer and chairman of the commission, told lawmakers. "It's just a matter of how soon."
Jay Wilson, vice chairman of the commission that put together the report, told AP that “we’re well within the window for it to happen again.”
With no time frame for the predicted earthquake, Oregonians need to be constantly prepared for one. The report warns of death and devastation ranging from British Columbia to Northern California, the worst of which will strike Oregon.
"Oregonians as individuals are underprepared," Maree Wacker, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross of Oregon, told AP.
An earthquake, together with the resulting tsunami, could leave Oregonians without water, power, heat, telephone services, and in some cases, gasoline. After a deadly earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 2011, lawmakers grew concerned that a similar disaster could occur in the US. The report says that geographically, Oregon and Japan are almost identical – but that Japan was far more prepared than Oregon would be if it faced the same fate.
The most recent report is not the first warning of an imminent high-magnitude quake. In 2012, researchers at Oregon State University published a study concluding that there is a 40 percent chance of a major earthquake in the Coos Bay, Ore., region during the next 50 years.
The Northwest US is long overdue for an earthquake, and it’s only a matter of time before the coast once again witnesses a quake with a magnitude higher than 8.0.
“By the year 2060, if we have not had an earthquake, we will have exceeded 85 percent of all the known intervals of earthquake recurrence in 10,000 years,” Jay Patton, co-author of the Oregon State University's research, said in a press release. “The interval between earthquakes ranges from a few decades to thousands of years. But we already have exceeded about three-fourths of them” (RT, 2013).