Can fracking cause earthquakes? Residents of towns like Cleburn, Texas have high hopes for the natural gas underlying their town - but have concerns about new techniques for getting to it.
"Fracking" (or hydraulic fracturing) is a natural gas-exploration technique that uses a slurry of water and chemicals and sand into production wells to create fractures in rock, releasing gas otherwise unobtainable.
Five small temblors [in July] have some people pointing the finger at technology that drilling companies use to reach deep into the earth to shatter rock and release new stores of natural gas ó the same technology that has made many of the locals rich. Thousands of wells have been drilled in the past five years. Now, a wave of small earthquakes is leading some residents in the north Texas town to link the two developments and some seismic experts to wonder about the cause. The industry says there isnít any evidence linking the quakes to gas production. Even geophysicists, who take the residentsí concerns seriously and are deploying seismic sensors in the area, say they canít prove a connection between the drilling and the quakes.
Take a look at this graphic that illustrates the process of hydraulic fracturing - "fracking".
According to geologists of the Arkansas Geological Survey, fracking was not responsible for the rise in seismic activity. However, because the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempted hydraulic fracturing from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, shale gas drillers donít have to disclose what chemicals they use. According to a report issued by the Environmental Working Group, fracking has already been linked to drinking water contamination and property damage in Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. In Dimock, PA, levels of methane in some water wells are so high that homeowners are able to set water on fire as it comes out of the tap. Keep your eyes peeled at about 45 seconds into the following video.
Sooner or later, townspeople will start playing the game Fracture, and start to wonder if weaponry like Tectonic Grenades that create "terrain deformation" might not be feasible after all.