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NY Quakes Probably Gas Drilling Related

Posted by feww on May 21, 2009

New York Earthquakes may be natural gas drilling activity related

having carefully researched and reviewed the SW New York seismic history, geological details of shale gas plays in the Appalachians and other related data, Moderators and blog contributors have concluded with 75% certainty the cluster of 3 earthquakes that struck Medusa, New York, earlier this week may have been caused by shale gas drilling activity.

The mainshock, a magnitude 3.0 tremor, struck on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 00:53 UTC, about 170km northeast of Dimock, Pennsylvania, followed by two smaller aftershocks measuring 2.1 and 1.9 Mw respectively. See below for details.

PA-NY-Gas drill
NE PA Gas Exploration & Central NY Wells. Epicenter of the mainshock
is marked in red at [42.571°N, 74.112°W.] The recent earthquake cluster struck an area located about 31 km WSW of Albany NY, and 170 km northeast of Dimock, Pennsylvania. Map: Google. Image may be subject to copyright. For legend see original map.

Oil and gas res
Shale Gas Plays, Lower 48 States. Map date: March 16, 2009. EIA Data Sources: Published studies. [Click image to enlarge.]

See also: The 100 Volumetrically Largest U.S. Oil and Gas Fields [PDF 12MB]

CHK – Marcellus Shale Depth from Data and Cores –  10/16/2008 [source.] Image may be subject to copyright.

FEWW expects more seismic activity occurring in a 100-km radius area  centered at  42.07°N, 75.27ºW, about 55km North of Hancock (town), New York, an area located outside the region’s recent historic seismicity. Should this occur, the Moderators would be able to recalculate the certainty factor.

geologydotcom- marcellus-shale-depth-map
This map shows the approximate depth to the base of the Marcellus Shale. It was prepared using the map by Robert Milici and Christopher Swezey above and adding depth-to-Marcellus contours published by Wallace de Witt and others, 1993, United States Department of Energy Report: The Atlas of Major Appalachian Gas Plays.  Image and caption:
Image may be subject to copyright.

Earthquake details:

Event #1 – Magnitude: 3.0
Date-Time:  Monday, May 18, 2009 at 00:53:29 UTC
Location: 42.571°N, 74.112°W
Depth: 9 km (5.6 miles)
Region: NEW YORK

  • 15 km (10 miles) N (5°) from Medusa, NY
  • 16 km (10 miles) SSW (203°) from Altamont, NY
  • 17 km (11 miles) WSW (240°) from Voorheesville, NY
  • 29 km (18 miles) WSW (250°) from Albany, NY
  • 138 km (86 miles) WNW (292°) from Springfield, MA
  • 208 km (129 miles) N (356°) from New York, NY

Source:  Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network (LCSN)
Event ID:  ld1023914
NY ld1023914  18 May 2009
Earthquake Location. Map Centered at 43°N, 74°W. Source: USGS? ANSS

NY ld1023914  18 May 2009 - 4

NY ld1023914  18 May 2009 - 2

Event #2 – Magnitude 2.1
Date-Time:  Monday, May 18, 2009 at 07:21:57 UTC
Location: 42.567°N, 74.109°W
Depth: 6 km (3.7 miles)
Source: Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network (LCSN)
Event ID:  ld1023916

Event #3 – Magnitude 1.9
Date-Time Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 14:52:32 UTC
Location 42.575°N, 74.113°W
Depth 14 km (8.7 miles)
Source Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network (LCSN)
Event ID ld1023935

Related Links:

See also:

19 Responses to “NY Quakes Probably Gas Drilling Related”

  1. […] upstate New York, in 2009, citizens expressed concerns about the sudden increase in earthquakes, worrying that the new seismic activity might be […]

  2. […] upstate New York, in 2009, citizens expressed concerns about the sudden increase in earthquakes, worrying that the new seismic activity […]

  3. Jan said

    Don’t Frack with…
    Study raises new concern about earthquakes and fracking fluids
    By Sharon Begley

    NEW YORK | Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:56pm EDT

    (Reuters) – Powerful earthquakes thousands of miles (km) away can trigger swarms of minor quakes near wastewater-injection wells like those used in oil and gas recovery, scientists reported on Thursday, sometimes followed months later by quakes big enough to destroy buildings.

    The discovery, published in the journal Science by one of the world’s leading seismology labs, threatens to make hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which involves injecting fluid deep underground, even more controversial.

    It comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducts a study of the effects of fracking, particularly the disposal of wastewater, which could form the basis of new regulations on oil and gas drilling.

    Geologists have known for 50 years that injecting fluid underground can increase pressure on seismic faults and make them more likely to slip. The result is an “induced” quake.

    A recent surge in U.S. oil and gas production – much of it using vast amounts of water to crack open rocks and release natural gas, as in fracking, or to bring up oil and gas from standard wells – has been linked to an increase in small to moderate induced earthquakes in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ohio, Texas and Colorado.

    Now seismologists at Columbia University say they have identified three quakes – in Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas – that were triggered at injection-well sites by major earthquakes a long distance away.

    “The fluids (in wastewater injection wells) are driving the faults to their tipping point,” said Nicholas van der Elst of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, who led the study. It was funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey.

    Fracking opponents’ main concern is that it will release toxic chemicals into water supplies, said John Armstrong, a spokesman for New Yorkers Against Fracking, an advocacy group.

    But “when you tell people the process is linked to earthquakes, the reaction is, ‘what? They’re doing something that can cause earthquakes?’ This really should be a stark warning,” he said.

    Fracking proponents reacted cautiously to the study.

    “More fact-based research … aimed at further reducing the very rare occurrence of seismicity associated with underground injection wells is welcomed, and will certainly help enable more responsible natural gas development,” said Kathryn Klaber, chief executive of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.


    Quakes with a magnitude of 2 or lower, which can hardly be felt, are routinely produced in fracking, said geologist William Ellsworth of the U.S. Geological Survey, an expert on human-induced earthquakes who was not involved in the study.

    The largest fracking-induced earthquake “was magnitude 3.6, which is too small to pose a serious risk,” he wrote in Science.

    But van der Elst and colleagues found evidence that injection wells can set the stage for more dangerous quakes. Because pressure from wastewater wells stresses nearby faults, if seismic waves speeding across Earth’s surface hit the fault it can rupture and, months later, produce an earthquake stronger than magnitude 5.

    What seems to happen is that wastewater injection leaves local faults “critically loaded,” or on the verge of rupture. Even weak seismic waves from faraway quakes are therefore enough to set off a swarm of small quakes in a process called “dynamic triggering.”

    “I have observed remote triggering in Oklahoma,” said seismologist Austin Holland of the Oklahoma Geological Survey, who was not involved in the study. “This has occurred in areas where no injections are going on, but it is more likely to occur in injection areas.”

    Once these triggered quakes stop, the danger is not necessarily over. The swarm of quakes, said Heather Savage of Lamont-Doherty and a co-author of the study, “could indicate that faults are becoming critically stressed and might soon host a larger earthquake.”

    For instance, seismic waves from an 8.8 quake in Maule, Chile, in February 2010 rippled across the planet and triggered a 4.1 quake in Prague, Oklahoma – site of the Wilzetta oil field – some 16 hours later.

    That was followed by months of smaller tremors in Oklahoma, and then the largest quake yet associated with wastewater injection, a 5.7 temblor in Prague on November 6, 2011.

    That quake destroyed 14 homes, buckled a highway and injured two people.

    The Prague quake is “not only one of the largest earthquakes to be associated with wastewater disposal, but also one of the largest linked to a remote triggering event,” said van der Elst.

    The Chile quake also caused a swarm of small temblors in Trinidad, Colorado, near wells where wastewater used to extract methane from coal beds had been injected.

    On August 22, 2011, a magnitude 5.3 quake hit Trinidad, damaging dozens of buildings.

    The 9.1 earthquake in Japan in March 2011, which caused a devastating tsunami, triggered a swarm of small quakes in Snyder, Texas – site of the Cogdell oil field. That autumn, Snyder experienced a 4.5 quake.

    The presence of injection wells does not mean an area is doomed to have a swarm of earthquakes as a result of seismic activity half a world away, and a swarm of induced quakes does not necessarily portend a big one.

    Guy, Arkansas; Jones, Oklahoma; and Youngstown, Ohio, have all experienced moderate induced quakes due to fluid injection from oil or gas drilling. But none has had a quake triggered by a distant temblor.

    Long-distance triggering is most likely where wastewater wells have been operating for decades and where there is little history of earthquake activity, the researchers write.

    “The important thing now is to establish how common this is,” said Oklahoma’s Holland, referring to remotely triggered quakes. “We don’t have a good answer to that question yet.”

    Before the advent of injection wells, triggered earthquakes were a purely natural phenomenon. A 7.3 quake in California’s Mojave Desert in 1992 set off a series of tiny quakes north of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, for instance.

    Now, according to the Science paper, triggered quakes can occur where human activity has weakened faults.

    Current federal and state regulations for wastewater disposal wells focus on protecting drinking water sources from contamination, not on earthquake hazards.

    (Reporting by Sharon Begley; Additional reporting by Edward McAllister; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Xavier Briand)

  4. feww said

    Magnitude 4.0
    Date-Time: Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 20:05:01 UTC
    [Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 03:05:01 PM at epicenter]

    Location: 41.122°N, 80.684°W
    Depth: 5 km (3.1 miles) (poorly constrained)

    4 km (2 miles) NW (315°) from Youngstown, OH
    4 km (3 miles) SSE (167°) from Girard, OH
    6 km (3 miles) S (191°) from Churchill, OH
    70 km (44 miles) E (85°) from Akron, OH
    96 km (60 miles) NW (322°) from Pittsburgh, PA
    Location Uncertainty: horizontal +/- 0.5 km (0.3 miles); depth +/- 31.6 km (19.6 miles)
    Source: Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network (LCSN)
    McDONALD, Ohio — Officials said Saturday they believe the latest earthquake activity in northeast Ohio is related to the injection of wastewater into the ground near a fault line, creating enough pressure to cause seismic activity.

    The brine wastewater comes from drilling operations that use the so-called fracking process to extract gas from underground shale. But Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Jim Zehringer said during a news teleconference that fracking is not causing the quakes (!)

  5. feww said

    Fracking tests near Blackpool ‘likely cause’ of tremors

    UK firm admits shale gas work caused tremors

  6. feww said

    New York steps closer to allowing hydrofracking

    (Reuters) – New York state would throw open its share of one of the world’s richest natural gas deposits to drilling under recommendations made by its environmental agency, creating a potential boom feared by environmentalists.

    While taking steps to protect New York City’s drinking water, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recommendations to Governor Andrew Cuomo would lift an effective moratorium on the controversial natural gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing.

    “The summary announced today seems to completely ignore the fact that the fracking is unsafe and that the industrial waste produced by this process is hazardous and needs to be treated as such,” said Ramsay Adams, executive director of Catskill Mountainkeeper.
    Environmentalists have argued that if drilling in the watershed is unsafe, it should be considered unsafe anywhere.

    “All parts of the state deserve to be protected equally from this environmentally destructive drilling technique,” Environmental Advocates of New York said in a statement.

    Considine, the University of Wyoming professor, looked at the environmental impact of drilling in the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania to gauge the impact in New York. Of the 2,139 wells drilled from 2008 to 2010 in the Pennsylvania Marcellus shale, 1,924 incurred environmental violations, the report said.

    Read full article at:

  7. JAMES T said

    [What makes you think we’d provide that sort of information? Moderator]

  8. Ewing Walker said

    [Wrong blog for your intentions. Moderator]

  9. msrb said

    Group demands more Pennsylvania natgas regulation
    Wed Sep 9, 2009 6:41pm EDT

    By Jon Hurdle

    PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Environmentalists accused Pennsylvania regulators of failing to protect public lands from damage by energy companies drilling for natural gas in the massive Marcellus Shale formation.

    It is the latest potential environmental obstacle to the development of the Marcellus Shale, a reserve estimated to contain enough natural gas to meet total U.S. needs for at least a decade.

    The Chesapeake Bay Foundation filed an appeal on Wednesday with the state’s Environmental Hearing Board, claiming that the state Department of Environmental Protection did not properly assess the impact of erosion caused by Fortuna Energy Inc drilling in state forests in Tioga County, northern Pennsylvania.

    Tom Rathbun, a DEP spokesman, said the department does not comment on pending litigation.

    A spokeswoman for Fortuna’s parent company, Talisman Energy Inc of Calgary, Canada, said the company was surprised by the foundation’s appeal and that Fortuna meets or exceeds all government regulations in all of its operations.

    “Environmental stewardship is an absolute top priority for us. Our environmental record since our inception in 2002 is something we’ve always been very proud of,” spokeswoman Phoebe Buckland said.

    The DEP issued a permit in March for the project under a new expedited applications process that failed to meet legal requirements for a study of the effect of drilling on erosion and sediment control, the foundation said.

    The appeal, filed on Tuesday, is the first legal challenge to the DEP’s regulation of the Marcellus Shale, and is likely to set a precedent, whatever the outcome, said Matt Royer, an attorney for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

    The move follows criticism by drilling opponents the DEP is failing to adequately protect public and private lands from suspected water contamination and other environmental damage by energy companies developing the Marcellus Shale.

    Some rural communities have also accused natural gas companies of polluting ground water during the process of drilling into the shale. The industry argues that its safeguards prevent any escape of toxic chemicals into water supplies.

    “The DEP is rubber-stamping permit applications without any formal review whatsoever,” Royer told a conference call with reporters. “Our state environmental protection agency is not doing what it should do to protect our environment.”

    The foundation argues that restraints on drilling companies were weakened when the DEP told county conservation districts in March that they no longer had authority to review permit applications for erosion and sediment control. They are urging the agency to restore the local oversight of drilling applications.

    The DEP’s new policies violate environmental laws including the federal Clean Water Act, the appeal alleges. (Editing by Daniel Trotta and Philip Barbara)
    © Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

  10. Joe Schmock said

    [Blah. Edited. Moderator]

  11. Chazz said

    What were you guys smoking when you came to this conclusion???

    • feww said

      What’s your interest in the analysis?
      Could it be that YOU
      (i) work for the drilling companies, or
      (ii) receive royalties for drilling on your land?

      [We leave the substance abuse to the oil and gas drilling rednecks!]

  12. Border Collie said

    [Edited. Moderator.]

    And, no, I’m not a Republican oil man or an ignorant Christian fundamentalist or a member of the idiotic Texas School Board or a gas-rich Texas land owner or any other such thing.

    [Edited. Moderator.]

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