Scientists from the US Geological survey at Menlo Park in California have been measuring earthquakes in the central part of the United States and looking at their frequency. Earthquakes of magnitude three and greater have increased six fold in the 21st Century compared with levels in the 20th Century. A six fold increase is noteworthy.
There are usually around 1.3 million earthquakes a year in the world below 3 on the Richter scale of a magnitude of 3 (M3) and those can be recorded but not felt. Around 130,000 earthquakes are above M3 and are felt. Lower than M4 rarely cause damage but if you in one that is higher than M4 you will usually feel shaking but no damage is likely to be caused. Earthquakes cause damage above M5 and are very destructive above M6.
The odd thing about the recent observations is that is a consistently higher than usual amount of earthquakes in the middle region of the USA (well away from the earthquake beaten track of California) and there is no natural explanation. There are no volcanoes in this region neither has there been a massive earthquake, the aftershocks of which can create many small earthquakes. Many think that the increasing number of earthquakes is due to the activities of humans in the area.
It is likely that changes in the way that mankind has extracted minerals, oil and gas have created these small earthquakes and the number of them seem to indicate that perhaps natural gas fracking may have created some earthquakes. Certainly it seems that mining of oil and natural gas along the border of Colorado and New Mexico has created earthquakes as have the use of deep water injection wells.
So if you feel the earth move under your feet it may well be that humans have moved it, and although the sky is not yet tumbling down the truth is that there are some many people in the world, each trying to eke out a living and a space to live and enjoy the fruits of the earth that we affect what is around us. We ultimately render the earth incapable of producing any more fruits for us to use and consume. At one time if we damaged our environment we simply up sticks and moved on. That option is no longer available to us.
Filed under: climate change Tagged: | deep water waste injection, earthquakes, environment, feel the earth move, fracking, increase of earthquakes in central USA, mining, number of earthquakes, oil and gas exploration, science, us geological survey