Satellite to detect human-induced earthquakes

Satellite to detect human-induced earthquakes

Scientists confirmed that the human activities are the reason behind Texas earthquakes in 2012. Oil and gas producing industries in Texas inject waste waters into deep rocks which make the surface bulge a little and ultimately results in earthquake.

The scientists studied the Japanese Advanced Observing Satellite (ALOS) radar’s data from last couple of years to analyze how waste waters deform the surface above them and tremors occur. The researchers affirmed that earthquake which rocked Texas in 2012 was due to the deformed surface by waste waters dumped in the area near Timpson. The team of researchers evaluated the rise in the surface near the waste water wells in Texas, and found that the ground raised by about 3 millimeters every year.

The theory of pore pressure has been used to conclude that the Texas earthquake was due to human activities.The pressure is created beneath the earth’s surface due to pores clogged by waste waters, which eventually results in sudden tremors. The study results were published the journal science.

“States need to do a much better job of gathering the data and making it available to the public so these sorts of studies are possible. Specifically, monthly injection volumes for every well”, saidMark McClure, a professor at Stanford University.

ManoochehrShirzaei, head of the research team, expressed that the researchers will soon be able to find the answers to why not every injection well results in earthquakes. This is the first ever research work to analyze how surface deformation by human activities leads to earthquakes. Shirzaei intends to study the other part of the US with this model, areas which are witnessing earthquakes at an increased pace in and around the oil and gas producing in industries.

According to a story published on the topic by Dispatch, "Scientists used radar from satellites to show that five Texas earthquakes, one reaching magnitude 4.8, were caused by injections of wastewater in drilling for oil and gas."

In 2012 and 2013, earthquakes — five of them considered significant — shook East Texas near Timpson. A team of scientists for the first time were able to track the uplifting ground movements in the earthquake using radar from satellites.

A study in the journal Science on Thursday says it confirms that these were not natural, something scientists had previously said was likely using a more traditional analysis.

A report published in Nature World News revealed, "A new study led by Arizona State University has proposed a new method to mitigate man-made earthquakes caused by excessive injection of wastewater deep underground as a byproduct of oil and gas extraction techniques, including hydraulic fracturing or fracking."

The study, published in the journal Science, suggests that the researchers could estimate how much pressure is increasing underground due wastewater injection. As the pressure reaches near critical level, the wastewater injection could immediately be stopped to prevent potential pressure buildup, which leads to man-made earthquakes.

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking has become one of the most controversial oil and gas extraction technique. During fracking, high pressure mix of water and chemicals, combined sand and gravels from the ground, produces lost of wastewater. In the United States, about two billion gallons of wastewater are produced and injected into about 180,000 disposal wells that are located mainly in Texas, California, Oklahoma and Kansas.


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