We can see Breitbart’s counterpart headline now: “God Punishes Oklahoma for Obama — Koch ‘Scientists’ Suggest Virgin Sacrifice, Because WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO?” Of course, those of us not inclined toward pleasing Cthulu might take Oklahoma’s record-breaking 20 earthquakes in one day as an omen that maybe fracking isn’t such a good idea, owing to the possibility of unforseen consequences. Consequences like 20 freaking earthquakes in one day!
Oklahoma has long been known as Earthquake Country, a place where the Lord makes his will known through trembling humility into the hearts of men. Lately though, God’s been joined by a more secular superbeing — and as reported by the Oklahoma Geological Survey yesterday, Lord Frack caused a stunning 20 earthquakes in one day.
True, about 18 out of the 20 were very small, mere tremors registering under a 3 on the Richter Scale. Still enough to crack masonry and loosen bricks on buildings, but otherwise fairly imperceptible. However, the largest one near Guthrie, Oklahoma registered a significantly more impressive 4.3 on the scale — and that’s something the town’s 10,000 or so residents certainly did feel. The photo above is from an Oklahoma quake in 2011, but a 4.3 is more than capable of causing this type of damage. Especially given Oklahoma’s notoriously lacking building codes, as one observer pointed out.
But, as stated earlier, Oklahoma’s known as Earthquake Country for a reason. The entire state sits on a shamble of broken fault lines and split rock — which is part of what makes it so attractive to frackers. So, what’s the big deal? Earthquakes in Earthquake Country. Nothing surprising about th —
Seems God didn’t really have a point to make till the second term.
Cornell university geophysics professor Katie Keranen sees it differently, though. She presents the unlikely scenario that the dramatic increase in earthquakes in the state might have something to do with the fracking that began there in 2010. Totally irrespective of any pursuasive data, Keranen assets that more than 2,500 of the earthquakes that have occurred in the last few years can be directly traced to fracking activities, with earthquakes occurring as far as 22 miles from the actual drill site.
Of course, there’s more data to be gained before anything conclusive can be said on the matter. And doubtless some readers are chuckling “Well, so what if the ground shakes a little. It’s only a 3 on the scale…just adds some character to the area. Sign of industry, that is!“
Indeed. and bigger signs are to come. Western University science professor Gail Atkinson warned some time ago that:
“I think ultimately, as fluids propagate and cover a larger space, the likelihood that it could find a larger fault and generate larger seismic events goes up.”
Or, to put it another way: the more fluid frackers pump into the ground, the more is going to find its way into larger and larger fault lines. Previously it was believed that Richter 3.0 quakes were the largest that could be expected. As fracking activity increases, and larger fault lines are engaged, scientists are coming to the conclusion that 5.0-and-up quakes may become the norm.
And even now, some other readers may be thinking:
“Well, let a few bricks fall on their heads. Maybe that’ll teach them something about the concept of “anthropogenic change” to the planet.”
And those readers might have a point, though it’ll probably be some time before the State of Denial stops sacrificing virgins to Cthulu and accepts reality. And in that time, perhaps those in states affected by fracking will remember those pictures of flaming tapwater. You know the ones, the pictures petroleum companies swore we’d never see, because accidents and unforeseen consequences never happen?
Now, bearing that image in mind, here’s another one: The most important aquifer in North America, surrounded on all sides by hundreds if not thousands of fracking sites.
Self-roasting corn, anyone?