Oil extraction and coal mining can and have caused earthquakes according to new studies. Some geologists think part of the reason New Orleans is sinking is due to oil and gas extraction. Plus: the Geysers in California continues to see many small earthquakes. It is in Napa Valley. There is a direct connection between volcanoes and wines.
Klose has identified more than 200 human-caused temblors, mostly in the past 60 years. "They were rare before World War II," he said.
Most were caused by mining, he said, but nearly one-third came from reservoir construction.
Oil and gas production can also trigger earthquakes, he added.
Klose's presentation drew considerable attention from the assembled geophysicists, who wondered if there were ways to reduce the risk by altering mining practices.
"One way would be to find a way that doesn't reduce the water in the mine," Klose said.
But as far as he knows, mining engineers aren't examining this, because they are currently unaware of the earthquake risk.
The danger is also relevant to proposals to sequester carbon dioxide by injecting it into geologic formations deep underground where the gas cannot escape and contribute to global warming.
"That alters stress in the crust [too]," Klose said, adding that the risk of earthquakes should be taken into account in planning the locations of such facilities.
Basically, he said, "don't put the injection fields close to large cities."
Cities grow where these activities occur. Even if the gas and oil extraction doesn't cause earthquakes, their situation probably does turn inevitable earthquakes into bigger events than otherwise. Just as living things form an ecosystem wherein all parts act on all other parts and changes in one facet reflects upon all other facets, so it is with geology: when we mess around with rocks and soils, it changes the interactions of the rocks and soils with each other.
Humans have been mining for rocks since the last Ice Age. Instead of merely picking up convenient rocks lying around the landscape, we used one of our earliest tools to seek rocks we valued: digging sticks. In Europe, Ice Age diggers used antlers. These small excavations have grown over the eons and today, thanks to modern technology, we have huge machines tearing away at the earth or reaching far below the surface to pump out water, oil and gas. We have little idea what this will cause in the long run and geology is all about very long runs.
It is interesting to me that the garage is the weak point here. All one has to do is triangulate the corners of garages, there is zero reason to make them totally squared-off. Just a 12"x12" triangle of metal that is a plate covering this area would go a long ways to making the building safer. The picture at the top of this page shows one way of doing this. I thought, bolts with '+' shaped slots could hold better if there is great lateral or up and down movement instead of breaking the bolts. In other words, total rigidity may cause the wood to fracture and shatter so it is best for some movement. Wood, after all, comes from trees that take some pretty high winds. I know the oaks I used in my own house, coming off a mountain with very strong winds, has a grain that can take a lot of stress. This is also why trees from wind-swept mountains are good for things like violins, the nature of the inner structure is quite flexible yet strong and rigid at the same time.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A new report by scientists studying Louisiana's sinking coast says the land here is not just sinking, it's sliding ever so slowly into the Gulf of Mexico.
The new findings may add a kink to plans being drawn up to build bigger and better levees to protect this historic city and Cajun bayou culture.
If the land is shifting - even slightly - engineers may need to take that into consideration as they build new levees and draw lines across the coast to identify areas that should and shouldn't be protected.
They believe this is due partially to oil and gas extraction. Yes, our pumping of various viscous substances has an effect on the overall stability of the land. Across the West, people are emptying out the massive &hearts Ogallala Aquifer. As the Rocky Mountains rose as our continent was shoved violently westwards, away from Pangaea, a water reservoir developed below the eastern slopes of the mountain range. Thanks to many violent volcanic eruptions from mostly Yellowstone Park, 900 feet of ash covered this area, trapping water below.
Click on image to enlarge.
Here is a map showing roughly the interaction of the aquifer with the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Mississippi to the right and the various major hot-spots as red stars. This map shows clearly that pumping out all the water means changing the dynamics of a huge area. This stretches from mid-Texas all the way up to North Dakota. The water is being pumped out much faster than it is being recharged.
In Arizona, even when I was a child, one could pump water out of the ground. All ranchers did that as well as the city of Tucson. As they pumped, the land changed in many ways, the obvious one being the collapse of the river system whereby even long-running rivers became seasonal arroyos. That aquifer was very small and deep.
This one is one of the biggest ones on earth. It made farming possible. Already, the rivers falling from the Rockies into the Mississippi valley are dropping in volume and becoming more seasonal.
The geographical feature we call Napa Valley was formed in the throes of forces so vast in scope, so colossally violent yet profoundly slow, that they defy imagination. The entire history of humanity has lasted a tiny fraction of the time it took to create the soil in Three Palms Vineyard. The valley is part of the California coastal margin, which is made of old seafloor, diverse chunks of rock from the greater Pacific basin, and fire-born materials disgorged from inside our planet. During millions of years, North America's western coastal margin rose from the sea as several plates of the earth's crust collided in cataclysmic slow motion. The long, steady compression formed the uplifted seabed into folds that became mountain ranges. In that process different types of valleys were created. In a few cases the troughs between the mountains were widened and lowered. The Napa Valley is one such drop-and-spread valley, which accounts for its low elevation relative to the higher stream-etched valleys which are more typical of the Coast Range.
Along many seams of thinned crust, volcanic vents opened and belched molten rock and ash. During long eras of fluctuating sea levels, the land was repeatedly submerged, dried out and submerged again, adding successive layers of sediment millions of years apart. The vegetation in forests and swamps was reduced to organic soil components, helping to provide footholds for new kinds of plants, new forests, and eventually for oversized gardens of grapevines cultivated by humans.
Just as a reminder, growing wine grapes and volcanoes goes hand in glove. They are virtually inseparable. Grapes grow up here, even, and we have no volcanoes, but they aren't the same as the great wine-grape growing regions of the earth. So it is no surprise to learn that the Geysers, a volcanic rift zone, is also Napa Valley, America's top wine-grape growing region.
&hearts Just one of many examples, Italy's greatest wine regions are also very geologically active, this is why cities keep springing up even as previous ones are totally destroyed by volcanic eruptions.
Italy has a more than 2000 year history of grape growing and wine making, a favorable climate, an incredible variety of indigenous vines: with a massive production in excess of 60 millions hectolitres, it is perhaps the largest wine producer in the world. Four examples of Italian terroirs illustrate some of the variations among the grape growing regions. They are typical Italian wines with controlled original denominations (DOC) produced by local, indigenous grapevines, some of ancient origin, such as AGLIANICO DEL VULTURE, known since the early days of the Roman Empire: the vineyards are located on the eastern and southern slopes of the Vulture volcano, on thin soils developed on volcaniclastic sediments rich in potash. The other examples include TEROLDEGO ROTALIANO, from a Graben in the heart of the Southern Alps, CASTEL DEL MONTE, located in the Apulia carbonate platform and LUGANA, on glacial moraines south of Garda Lake. The four terroirs strongly differ not only for the physical environment, but for the cultural methods that reflect a very long tradition developed through the centuries.
Even Santorini, aka, Thera, still grows grapes! And the explosion of that volcano destroyed a lot of the Bronze Age civilizations in the Mediterranean.
This spot is quaking like mad now. It was geologically silent back when they drilled down several thousand feet to tap the steam that is created when water leaks down there and is heated by the earth's hot lava. Of course, to increase the power this generates, we pump make it possible for more water to flow into there. This is on a fault-line.
So if pumping out oil and gas or digging out coal causes earthquakes, could this activity be even more dangerous and provoke volcanic actions? Earthquakes can be troublesome but when it comes to wholesale destruction, the only thing that beats volcanoes is of course, being hit by large celestial objects.