Hydraulic Fracturing, or Fracking, is big news these days. Here in Ohio, the Governor’s office is trying to convince folks that a shale deposit in Eastern Ohio promises gas (and jobs) for years to come. Environmentalists all over the place believe that Fracking is nothing but trouble.
This post isn’t about them.
This post is about fracking operations in England that are believed to have caused some minor earthquakes. These quakes, which occurred in April and May of this year, ranged from 1.9 to 2.8 on the Richter scale. The Richter scale, by the way, is a logarithmic scale, which means that a 3.0 quake is ten times more powerful than a 2.0 quake. Quakes of this magnitude are barely (if at all) noticed without instruments.
The folks near these fracking operations are concerned at the thought that fracking is causing instability beneath them. I can definitely understand this concern, and it seems like a little more research might be in order before we do too much messing around with rock formations that keep us out of the sea and hold our water supplies.
In a rare glass-half-full moment, though, I’ll suggest that at some point in the not-too-distant future, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see us employ technology like this to relieve stress in some of the world’s most dangerous faults. Done correctly, this seems like it might have the potential to turn “the big one” into a series of little ones — not a bad trade-off, I’d think.
Now, if we need more research just to be able to conduct fracking operations safely to begin with, we surely need more research before we start messing with fault lines, and I understand that there are different sorts of fault lines, and so on — I get all that. But still, this seems like a perfect opportunity to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Let’s hope scientists figure out how to repurpose this technology into something that can start saving lives.