Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gas-well work damages environment in several ways


I agree 100% with Art. We need to transition from fossil fuels, and we 
need to start it in a serious way, NOW. Not just dribs and drabs here and 
there, the way we are doing it today. Whether the human race is capable 
of such wisdom, is of course, less than certain.

Unfortunately, our treatment of groundwater exhibits our shortcomings. 
Our almost universal depletion of aquifers and pollution of them is a 
really bad idea. Yet it goes on, with almost no effort to turn things 

-- Malcolm

Malcolm K. Cleaveland, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Geography
Tree-Ring Laboratory TEL: 479-575-3159
Dept. of Geosciences, Division of Geography FAX: 479-575-3469
Ozark Hall 113
University of Arkansas - Fayetteville
Fayetteville, AR 72701 U.S.A. INTERNET:

On Tue, 13 Apr 2010, Art Hobson wrote:

> Hi Dina -
> Thanks for this note. I wonder what indirect effects these small quakes are 
> having, on groundwater, on buried gas lines, and other things. It might be 
> worth asking Mr. Al-Shukri if he is aware of any such effects.
> In my opinion, the big gorilla in these unconventional gas operations (i.e. 
> any gas operation other than simple drilling and release of gas) is global 
> warming. It's been clear for decades, and James Hansen makes it very clear 
> in his recent book "Storms of My Grandchildren," that humankind must not 
> exploit these unconventional fossil resources: shale oil, shale gas, tar 
> sands, deep offshore oil, conversion of coal to liquid and gaseous fuels, 
> etc. Atmospheric CO2 is already up to 390 parts per million, and Hansen 
> shows that this level is already unsustainable and will probably melt much of 
> Greenland and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. This melting has already begun, 
> but at a slow pace. The pace will increase, and the rate of global sea level 
> rise will eventually reach several meters (yards) per century. According to 
> Hansen, "For the moment the best estimate I can make of when a large sea 
> level change will begin is during the lifetime of my grandchildren--or 
> perhaps your children." Hansen is the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for 
> Space Studies and arguably the world's leading climate scientist.
> We must stop the insane exploitation of all these difficult-to-recover 
> unconventional fossil resources. There's far too much carbon in them for the 
> planet to handle without shifting to an entirely new climate regime, one that 
> humans won't be well suited for. The sensible way to do this is to put an 
> economic price on carbon emissions, using a carbon tax & rebate 
> (preferred--see Hansen's book) or a cap & trade system. We haven't really 
> begun to do this yet. We'd better get busy.
> - Art
> On Apr 12, 2010, at 4:47 PM, Dina Nash wrote:
>> Wonder how the folks who live "in the middle of nowhere" feel about being 
>> dismissed as unimportant? This is the area where my grandparents taught 
>> school, where more and more people are moving to (Greenbriar and in all 
>> directions out from it). What's happening to their sense of security and 
>> to their livestock, their water wells, and the foundations of their old 
>> barns and homes? At least, there's now the recognition that the drilling 
>> is causing the earthquakes. Wonder how many small ones will happen before 
>> larger ones are triggered? How many does it take for permanent changes in 
>> the water table to happen?
>> If you have information about people being affected, will you please 
>> contact me and I'll pass the information on to the Sierra Club folks who 
>> are trying to organize measured responses to the shale drilling issue.
>> Dina Nash, Pulaski County League of Women Voters, Environmental Co-chair
>> Little Rock
>> 501-554-2200 (c)
>> ----- Forwarded Message ----
>> From: Barry Haas 
>> Sent: Sun, April 11, 2010 11:28:17 PM
>> Subject: April 10, 2010 Arkansas DemGaz article: Scientist blames quakes 
>> on drilling
>> Scientist blames quakes on drilling
>> By Kenneth Heard
>> LITTLE ROCK — A series of temblors near Greenbrier in central Arkansas, 
>> including one Thursday evening, were more likely caused by gas and oil 
>> drilling than an active fault, geologists said Friday.
>> The U.S. Geological Survey reported an earthquake measuring 1.6 in 
>> magnitude about 5 miles northwest of Greenbrier at 5:01 p.m. Thursday.
>> There were no reports of damage.
>> Several other quakes hit the area over the past several months, said 
>> Haydar Al-Shukri, director of the Arkansas Earthquake Center at the 
>> University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
>> Because the earthquakes have occurred infrequently, Al-Shukri believes 
>> they are caused by workers drilling for oil and gas in Faulkner County. He 
>> expects more, minor ones to rattle the area as drilling continues.
>> “If it were a fault zone, we’d see constant activity,” Al-Shukri said. 
>> “These are occurring sporadically in areas close to drilling and 
>> injecting.”
>> He said drilling and injecting the holes with fluid create pressure 
>> underground and cause shifting of tectonic plates.
>> An area about 8 miles east of Hector in Pope County also has seen an 
>> increase in rumblings, he said. The U.S. Geological Survey reported seven 
>> quakes measuring 1.8 in magnitude or greater in the past three weeks.
>> The epicenters of the quakes were at different depths - another indication 
>> that they are not fault-based and instead are caused by the drilling, 
>> Al-Shukri said.
>> “When someone extracts oil or injects a lot of fluid into the subsurface, 
>> it causes a tip in the balance,” he said. “These quakes are the result of 
>> that imbalance.”
>> Al-Shukri doesn’t expect the earthquakes to be greater than 3.5 in 
>> magnitude.
>> Quakes measuring 4.0 in magnitude can cause minor structural damage.
>> “We don’t anticipate any problems,” he said. “They are small and most are 
>> happening in the middle of nowhere where the drilling is going on.”
>> This article was published April 10, 2010 at 5:24 a.m.
> Art Hobson, Physics, U Arkansas, Fayetteville.
> See my liberal-arts physics textbook and other stuff at 

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