Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Oklahoma continues to fish for earthquakes


I'm pretty sure that OK will continue its deep injection for earthquakes.  They aren't going to let a mere M5.6 slow them down!  But really, I have no idea what the following 'act' may be.  This not an conjugate set of faults like Arkansas, so maybe the M5.6 is the limit for this area.  Still, if they continue to inject, we must expect M3's and 4's along the edges.

OPG Nuclear and Drugs


Just threw this in because of old links, not nearly exciting as earthquakes!  I just think they should dole out lots of Cipralex, because it is the most depressing place in the world!  Lots of times we all wished we could mainline straight Morphine at our cubicles, just like terminal cancer patients.

I retired early, and it took years to stop the nightmares.  I wish everybody there lots of love.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Burlington, Ontario earthquake

Yeah!  An earthquake in my backyard!  Didn't feel it.

Good thing nobody's injecting here, or we would have had a big earthquake by now.  Just these little ones, they don't mean a thing.....


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Site of next injection earthquake?

I have some hope for this site in Texas (with the fresh red earthquake).  It's just down the megathrust from OK, so it's a good site.  People don't realize that it is a risky thing to drill an injection well when you don't know a thing about the Precambrian basement.  Between the megathrusts you have very high stresses (like the Niagara Tunnel!), and you can't inject a drop.  Many such wells have been abandoned.  But if you hit the active hanging wall of the megathrust, water goes in like a sieve.  Soon, many more injection wells are joining you for the party.

Just like Arkansas, OK and the rest, I have great faith that they will continue to inject until they get a big earthquake.  Since this is in the middle of nowhere, I hope they break the record!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Seismic renovation of schools


I'm not that fond of saving the exterior wall.  Multi-story brick walls cannot be saved!  You have to use 'invisible' bolts to secure the brick, and they pull out like soft cheese.

I'm glad nobody listens to me, since it makes everybody so much happier to save the walls.  When it's all done, make sure nobody runs out right away in an earthquake!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Italy earthquake trial - Sitting on a bomb


Nice article.  Lots of places in the world are 'sitting on a bomb' at 1 in 1000 odds.  Look at Toronto!  It is the nature of officials to ignore this.  And probably, you'll have a thousand earthquake clusters before one is  significant.  Still, there seems to be mixed opinions on this trial.

I think in reality it happened this way:  The scientists hemmed and hawed, using countless qualifications, so that they were not understandable.   The public officials then stated that there was nothing to worry about, and that all those earthquakes 'were relieving the stress', or some such babble.  The scientists, in their ivory tower, did nothing.  Like Christchurch, and a zillion other places, nobody bothered to mention everybody was in a seismic death trap, since everybody knew, but chose to ignore it.  As with Toronto, it's not really a scientific issue.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Japan Nuclear Plants - Too Big to Fail


A nice story, suitable for bedtime reading.  They use the same fallacy as everybody else uses:  We can't do anything about nuclear plants, because if we shut them all down, we die.  This prevents them from doing anything,

If I were a lot smarter, I'd feel like that scientist.  :)

Niagara Tunnel Reports

This is an interesting read for the serious students of the tunnel.

It basically states that with all the things that went wrong, that the cost will remain at 1.6 billion.  It also states that there is a significant increase in total electricity production.  It clarifies the financing, and mentions that it has spent 1 billion up to now.

So I'm completely wrong!  Can they actually keep it to 1.6 billion?  Will the liner survive the rock squeeze?  I'm so depressed....

Friday, November 18, 2011

Earthquake in Virginia - New Seismometers in Georgia


Somehow Georgia has got a sneak preview of USarray instruments that might eventually make it east.

Yeah!  We continue the wonderful balkanization of US seismology.  But soon the USarray will come in.  What are they studying?  Is it just the deep crust?  I remain hopeful.  (not really...)

Massive Permian CO2 spill exactly the same as today


In the Permian, we had true global warming.  But it was many, many times of what we have today.

I'm trying to work up an 'old ladies' talk.  What started me going was the classic dinosaur timeline.  They had their main fun during the middle of their reign and were declining before the 'whatever' hit.  Really, had just two dinos survived, and conditions were still right, they'd still be eating us for dinner!

But conditions weren't right, and it has to do with plate tectonics, and simple physics (something alien to geologists!).  The plates open and close like toilet seats.  

Now, all our earthquakes in eastern NA have their origins in the Precambrian plate closure, when the super continent Rodinia was formed.  I love thinking about that, when there were huge mountain ranges over Toronto.  Then we'd have some skiing!

But they split, and nothing much happened until they started to join up again before the Permian.  It was a time of joy for the early forms of what would eventually become mammals.

But in the Permian, everything joined up to become one big super continent, and here's where the physics comes in.  You'll never see this anywhere, but continent was a giant thermal blanket.  No spreading ridges between the land masses!  Think of all those wet, oceanic subducted plates just baking!  The big surprise is that it wasn't the CO2 that turned the whole place into a dinosaur's dreamland, it was the water vapour, which is many times more potent as a greenhouse gas.  Can't get volcanic CO2 injection without water vapour, kiddies!

Eventually, the continents split up again, and we got the cold, modern world.  Even if you raised a Jurassic dinosaur, you'd have a tough time keeping it alive.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

French Reactors are Cheesy


(Reuters) - France needs to upgrade the protection of vital functions in all its nuclear reactors to avoid a disaster in the event of a natural calamity, the head of its nuclear safety agency said, adding there was no need to close any plants.

Ok, let's not pick on poor old France, but this article does show the need to lower the odds for earthquake scenarios.  As well, they have to take a realistic attitude to field observations on how things actually perform during earthquakes.

Anyone who reads this knows one of my major pet peeves is the massive physics disconnect between field observations (experience data), and engineering design (seismic).  They are two different worlds!  Engineering design is defended using the words 'traditional' and 'conservative'.  Pah!

So, along come some earthquakes and blow this complacent attitude away.  Now we have reports.  It is funny that nothing will change in Canada and the US, because of entrenched interests, and the fact that the regulators don't have a speck of seismic expertise.  Being familiar with Canada, I can assure you that the regulator wouldn't hire an earthquake specialist, if one splattered on their windshield!  We leave it as an exercise to think of what the utilities will say.....

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Deep injection earthquakes Avoca, NY


Interesting article.  They only got up to an M3.2 before they turned it off.  It takes magnificent 'Jaws-like' pigheadedness to get higher.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Soft-story glass-walled condos


As we are aware, the seismic capacity of a soft-story condo approaches that of old brick in Christchurch.  From the Chile earthquake, the condos permanently tilt (must be abandoned) at 30-40 cm/s.  But Chile didn't have glass-walled condos!  Perhaps they are too smart.

With gw condos, we no longer have a nice brick or concrete infill.  Now, all the lateral stiffness must rely on the spidery columns.  And guess what?  They are useless!  What is the seismic capacity of such a beast?  Let's say 20 cm/s.  I believe this was easily hit by the Virginia earthquake on soft ground, as we would experience near the lake.  I can now update my earthquake scenario, in that these things will lose all their glass.  As we know, nothing will bother bank towers, since they pour the money into those things.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Virginia earthquake reactor good to go


Ah, but did Homer learn anything?  Nope.

This puts an end to the Virginia earthquake saga.  I'm pretty convinced the big dam induced the earthquake, but I was expecting more clues from the aftershock sequence.  Could have just gone on its own.

I expect more of these things, since everybody and their dog is injecting fluids.  Apparently the alternative is to just put that water into the sewer system....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Turkey Earthquake - Reduction of Seismic Capacity


It seems that a hotel which survived the big earthquake, came down on a smaller quake.  This is the same as Christchurch, and results from either the smaller quake being closer and having a higher peak ground velocity (PGV), or the building has had its seismic capacity (in terms of PGV) greatly reduced by the first quake.

In Christchurch it was a combination of both.  Here, the hotel was badly cracked in the first quake, and still they jammed it with aid workers.  Thus arises the contentious issue of the role of ground motion duration in determining damage.  The issue is confused by the fact that nearly all earthquakes are over in a couple of cycles, but on soil basins the cycle (sinusoidal motions) can go on for 30 seconds or more.  Yet the soil greatly amplifies the PGV.  So, can duration override the PGV in determining structural damage?  My head hurts at the complications....

We do know that the first few cycles can damage the structure.  At this point, the building becomes softer and can gather energy at the lower frequencies.  As well, the relative-displacement-sensitive points have moved.  This can be the pull on rebars, or the way the floor hangs on untied lips.  Thus, buildings can survive in this state, and only need a puff to knock them over.

An engineer evaluating this building is left to hang in the breeze.  Unless he knows exactly how crappy the building is (made of sand with no steel) he cannot determine the critical displacement to collapse.  A good, ductile building can easily take cracks.  There is tremendous political pressure not to red-tag every building in sight.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Good-bye Oklahoma

Well, another induced earthquake has passed us by, and we have learned nothing.  Nobody can do the simplest thing such as a flow rate vs seismic activity plot.  And maybe the next earthquake will have decent depth control on locations.

The most memorable was a Monty Python sketch-type thing:

Picture John Cleese as the Minister of Silly Statements.

M:  No earthquake over M4.9 can be induced.

One aide whispers in his ear.

M: Oh dear.  Ahem.   No earthquake over M5.0 can be induced.

Other aide whispers.

M:  I see...... No earthquake over M5.2 can be induced.

and so on....  :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nobody needs earthquake insurance


There's a big discussion in OK right now about earthquake insurance.  The case for EI revolves around the speculation whether the feds will turn on the taps after an earthquake.  Many people have been arguing that California and others won't see a penny, mainly because Katrina was so screwed up.

Well, the answer is "Yes Virginia, you will see generous near-zero loans for any damage you make up, and they will most likely forget who you are, being gov't and all."

Unlike tightwad insurance companies who probably demand proof of damage and repairs, this is like winning the lottery.  I leave it as an exercise on what people will do with the money.

So, in the US, don't get earthquake insurance!  The more you are damaged, the more you win!

ps.  I am totally at a loss if someone argues that political bailout money is tightly controlled.  I'll just give up and apologize for my horrible inference.  :)

OK earthquake g+ hangout

Here is a great recording by the man himself - Ron Schott.  You can just listen to the beginning, where I present the opposing opinion.  After that, I left to eat dinner.

But he is really good on the volcano, which is his specialty.

Monday, November 7, 2011

OK earthquake 'too powerful' to be man-made


Yes Virginia (ironic, no?), there is a limit to the size of an induced earthquake.

The magnitude-5.6 quake that rocked Oklahoma three miles underground had the power of 3,800 tons of TNT, which is nearly 2,000 times stronger than the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
The typical energy released in tremors triggered by fracking, "is the equivalent to a gallon of milk falling off the kitchen counter," said Stanford University geophysicist Mark Zoback.

Zoback is the really, really big star of the earthquake academic world.  I'm surprised he gave a sound-bite.

But wastewater from hundreds of wells is often collected and disposed of deep underground through so-called injection wells. In Lincoln County, Okla., where the recent earthquakes hit, there are approximately 1,982 active oil and gas wells, according to Matt Skinner, spokesman for the state agency that oversees oil and gas production. There are 181 injection wells.

I was suspecting there was one deep injection well!  Oh well, (ha!), let's wait for the next one.....

OK Geo Survey first to prove earthquake to fracking link

And we thought the British had the credit!  No, here is the real deal, greatly underemphasized and buried under the carpet.


Below is the Garvin county in the paper.  Right up the megathrust is the new thing.  These zones can be imagined as bright red lines all the way down ENA where you do not build giant dams, or inject water.  But the nature of the geology makes them ideal for this sort of thing......

OK and VA earthquakes Part 2: Walks like a duck

These are the best felt area maps I can get right now.  I would really like the larger version for OK, but it is not available.

I know this earthquake was felt all the way to Chicago, so the lobe is weighted to the NE, like all of these earthquakes.

Again, both earthquakes seem a bit more symmetrical than past earthquakes, but they have the same general lobed felt area.

Earthquakes: OK and Virginia identical twins

Using my poor eyes in the morning, I have tried to plot the aftershocks to the same scale.  If they actually had accurate depths, I would expect the aftershock sequence to deepen to the SE.  I consider them both to be identical mechanisms, caused by fluid injection, by a dam, and one by borehole.

I am surprised that the OK earthquake has a much bigger aftershock zone, and yet it was a smaller earthquake in Magnitude.  This probably reflects the state of stress in the deep rocks.  By definition, it will turn out the the VA earthquake has a much higher 'stress drop'.

Anyway, with all the dams, and all the new injection, we can expect another earthquake soon, for comparison purposes -- Ohio.

PS - The OK earthquake is listed as pure strike-slip.  Either there is a wide uncertainty band, or we can expect a thrust earthquake (or one has already happened in the distant past).  An isolated pure S-S earthquake cannot exist mechanically in this area.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oklahoma Earthquake: Tickling the Megathrust

Wow!  An M5.6!  This is the exact same aftershock pattern as Virginia, and it could have been Arkansas, if they had a bit more stupidity juice and kept injecting.  :)

I'll go out on a limb, and say this is caused by deep injection into the exact same megathrust that runs under Toronto -- they line up pretty good.  I know they will keep injecting here, so lets see what an M6.5 can do --hmmm?

Update:  No injuries, some house damage.  I am amazed how everybody treats this as a big joke, unlike the other earthquakes.  They certainly won't even look at the cause, and continue to do what they are doing.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Oklahoma earthquakes: trying to find a mechanism

So, this area has been hit by earthquakes.  It is also a huge oil producer since the beginning.


The first oil boom came to the Prague community in 1915 with the discovery of the Paden field. The little neighboring town was flourishing under typical early day oil boom conditions. In anticipation of expanded activities, excitement ran high in Prague; even the Prague News became a daily.(48)

From 1915 to 1923 there was a great deal of leasing of desirable land by oil companies around Prague, but no new fields were discovered. In 1923 Prague had its second oil boom, with the discovery of oil on the Leader Ranch, fifteen miles north of Prague. The ranch was owned by M. Blumenthal, owner of Prague's leading drygoods store.(49)

The big Wewoka oil field came in 1923. This field is forty miles from Prague but it was connected the Stroud field by a highway that ran through Prague and caused the town to share in the activity.(50)

The development of the Earlsbourough oil field reached its peak in 1926 and was the next boom to affect the little town of Prague. Earlsbourough is thirty miles from Prague, but again the traffic from the booming field came through Prague bringing its golden harvest.(51)

The Cromwell-Seminole Oil fields were brought in 1927. As a result, one of the largest fields in the state was approximately twenty miles straight south of Prague. Again, the oil fever ran high in the little town, but still no oil was discovered in the immediate vicinity of Prague.(52)

The location of the Stroud-Key West oil field twenty miles to the north, Paden, nine miles to the east, Crowmwell-Seminole pool, twenty miles south, and Willsetta, ten miles to the west, gives Prague an excellent location for trade with the booming fields without experiencing the worst features of an oil boom.(53)

The last oil development to affect Prague vitally came in 1931 during the depression days and eased the impact of unemployment on this community. This field is the closest of all the fields to Prague as it lies just outside the southern city limits. Thus Prague has benefited greatly from oil but has never had a first class boom of its own.(54)

Now, why all the commotion right now?  Somebody is probably doing deep injection, but we'll see if it can develop into a full mechanism.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New fracking injection well starts the earthquake fun


Brine water, a byproduct of oil drilling and hydraulic-fracturing for natural gas, is flushed underground.
"There's definitely a coincidence," said Jeffrey Dick, geology department chairman at Youngstown State University. "But whether or not there's a link, nobody has enough data quite yet."
Heidi Hetzel-Evans, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said the agency stood by regulations allowing the well operations. The agency has "not seen any evidence that shows a correlation between localized seismic activity and deep-injection well disposal," she said.

Yeah!  We start Arkansas all over again!  This is a prime fault zone, the megathrust that defines the Hamilton Fault Zone, and zooms all the way down to the big stuff.  I don't think we have the seismic resolution to define a mechanism, but, like Arkansas, they should start with a NW thrust zone, and then bloom to a large NE strike-slip.  Although in this area, like Hamilton, you can survive with a NE mixed fault mechanism.

Now, the fun in watching this will be to see how big the earthquakes can get before they capitulate by turning off the well.