Sunday, 22 April 2012

Human Activity Related to Earthquakes?

In my previous post  I expressed a doubt about the Web-Bot project's methods because I did not see a way in which human behavior was related to natural catastrophes. Now I have second thoughts.







I wrote:
Ure and High hypothesize that changes in language precede changes in behavior. This is the basis for attempting to use ALTA as a form of future viewing. The authors have repeatedly asserted in interviews that the predictions made in the ALTA report have an inherent bias toward events of a negative nature and tend to be framed in catastrophic terms. However, the reports have also indicated positive events such as the development of new technology and increased social awareness.


It's beyond my understanding how change in language over the web could predict natural catastrophes, even if you could prove that change in language is associated with change in behavior, because there is no proof that human behaviour affects nature to bring natural catastrophes.


Today, I came across a news article(http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/18/us-earthquakes-fracking-gas) related to seismology experiment which points towards a possibility of correlation between oil-drills and seismic ways. This article gives me second thoughts and now I think that there might be a relation between human behaviour and natural catastrophes.


The entire article:

America's oil and natural gas boom has led to a "remarkable" rise in earthquakes in the middle of the country, the US Geological Survey said on Wednesday. But scientists said the man-made quakes were not directly caused by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves pumping chemicals and water deep into underground rock formations.
"We don't find any evidence that fracking is related to any of these magnitude 3 earthquakes that we have been studying," Bill Ellsworth, the USGS seismologist leading the study of man-made quakes, told a conference call with reporters. "We simply don't see any evidence that fracking is related to earthquakes that are of concern to people."
However, he said there were a few instances when waste water wells, in which chemicals used in fracking are injected deep underground, had triggered seismic activity.
Ellsworth set off a man-made quake of his own a few days ago in a report on NPR about his forthcoming study, to be presented at the annual meeting of seismologists in San Diego on Wednesday evening.
The study found a sixfold increase in man-made quakes in an area including Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas against the 20th century average, the increase taking place over a 10-year period starting in 2001. The quakes were small, a magnitude just over 3.0, but there were even more of them after 2009, which corresponded with a sharp rise in natural gas drilling around the country.
"A remarkable increase in the rate of (magnitude 3) and greater earthquakes is currently in progress," Ellsworth and his colleagues wrote in a summary of the study.
"While the seismicity rate changes described here are almost certainly manmade, it remains to be determined how they are related to either changes in extraction methodologies or the rate of oil and gas production," the abstract said.
The next three years saw a far greater increase in such events. The time period corresponds to a boom in natural gas production, made possible by the use of hydraulic fracturing. There were 50 earthquakes in 2009, 87 in 2010 and 134 last year.
The USGS dispatched scientists to look for links between the quakes and drilling activity after a swarm of earthquakes in 2009.
Steve Horton of the University of Memphis Center for Earthquake Research and Information, who was on Wednesday's call, said it was difficult to prove a connection between those waste wells and earthquakes.
Scientists were only able to establish a clear link between a waste water well in Arkansas because the quake was actually triggered by its construction.
"It is very difficult to prove that earthquake are related to fluid injection or triggered by it. In the case of Arkansas, the injection started and then very soon after the earthquake started. After the injection stopped the earthquake stopped, so there is a strong association," he said.
In other cases, there were seismic changes only several years after the wells were injected.
Waste water wells have been in use for decades as a disposal method. Ellsworth noted there were more than 140,000 around the country, and very few had triggered earthquakes. "It's only a small fraction of wells that can be problematic," he said.
Does this mean that Web-Bot Project has some validity in relating human endeavors to natural calamities? It's possible in my opinion, however, it's not to suggest that it approves in any way, all of what they have been prophesied because that has not come to be true.  


Your ideas on this subject are most welcome. Feel free to comment and engage in discussion. 


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