LA City Council: Yeah, that earthquake was probably caused by fracking

posted at 11:21 am on March 21, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

Residents of Los Angeles felt another rumbling in the Earth last week, registering a rather tame 4.4 on the scale and leading to a few comic moments for local news crews. A quake that size happening anywhere in Southern California generally isn’t going to make the news beyond the local level… unless you find a way to put some new spin on it. As the Chamber of Commerce noted, some LA politicos couldn’t let a good, moderate quake go to waste, so they came up with a way to try to use it to their own advantage.

Three Los Angeles City Council members want city, state and federal groups to look into whether hydraulic fracturing and other forms of oil and gas “well stimulation” played any role in the earthquake that rattled the city early Monday morning.

The motion, presented Tuesday by Councilmen Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin and seconded by Councilman Bernard Parks, asks for city departments to team up with the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey and the South Coast Air Quality Management District to report back on the likelihood that such activities contributed to the 4.4-magnitude quake.

In case you’re rubbing your eyes in disbelief, yes… they actually said that. But to be fair to them, it’s not as if they dreamed up the idea themselves out of complete vapor. Odd as it may sound, we have discovered that sustained fracking actually can cause quakes, and it’s been fairly well documented in both Texas and Ohio. Pressure injection in unstable shale deposits can lead to some shifting in the area of the drilling, and it’s apparently allowed a few slips in the strata to be measured at the surface. I didn’t believe it myself until some energy company folks began digging into it.

Of course, there are two things to note about the Texas and Ohio quakes. First of all, the biggest of these events struggle to make it up into the range of a mid 3 level quake. (Think an earthquake on the range of the DC shaker which tragically knocked over several pieces of lawn furniture.) That’s because the strength of a quake depends on both the depth of the originating event and the distance along a fault it travels. Even deep drilling doesn’t make it much past two miles down and they are short lived events. The vast majority of events potentially linked to fracking are never felt by people and require a seismograph to notice.

Second, the quakes are more notable because they have been happening in places which rarely if ever see them. That sort of thing really makes you stand up and take notice. So how does this work out for the theory that fracking must have caused the quake in LA?

According to seismographic data, the quake was six miles beneath the surface.

What’s more, Mark Zoback, professor of geophysics in the Stanford School of Earth Sciences, hydraulic fracturing expert, and a former advisor for the Obama administration’s Department of Energy has said that hydraulic fracturing doesn’t have the oomph to cause earthquakes and poses “no danger to the public”:

The quake was six miles deep. Trust me, nobody is drilling that deep in California. And more to the point, they’re sitting on one of the most famous fault lines on the planet. But hey… don’t let that stop you. Just blame it on whatever you like.


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Its aliens or black holes. No wait, I’ve got it it’s too many people tipping the state of California. Its like that idiot Dem congressperson was saying about Guam. Its not an earthquake, its California tipping sideways due to too many people on one side of the state making it tilt over. Just have everyone lean left and it should stop the wuakes.

neyney on March 21, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Yes, exactly what I thought. Put the label and whistle away – sure sign of intelligence.

Rookie on March 21, 2014 at 1:33 PM

You’re just a cretin, I will waste no more time with

you.

Dookie on march 21, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Comedy gold :)…looks like Romanians don’t have an exactly acute sense of irony :)…

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Its aliens or black holes. No wait, I’ve got it it’s too many people tipping the state of California. Its like that idiot Dem congressperson was saying about Guam. Its not an earthquake, its California tipping sideways due to too many people on one side of the state making it tilt over. Just have everyone lean left and it should stop the wuakes.

neyney on March 21, 2014 at 2:00 PM

FIFY – Brevity is the soul of wit ;)

mdenis39 on March 21, 2014 at 2:05 PM

oscarwilde on March 21, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Y’all will get it together, eventually. And in the meantime we get to point fingers at the nutty fruitcakes living in paradise.

cozmo on March 21, 2014 at 1:57 PM

I sure hope so… but I wouldn’t bet any money on it… Insane goes right down to the bone…

oscarwilde on March 21, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Frackin? Ridiculous.

It was caused by global warming. Duh.

iurockhead on March 21, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Frackin? Ridiculous.

It was caused by global warming. Duh.

iurockhead on March 21, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Dude… but fracking causes globull warming…

oscarwilde on March 21, 2014 at 2:33 PM

oscarwilde on March 21, 2014 at 2:33 PM

I thought cow farts caused globull warming.

I really like to write cow farts.

cozmo on March 21, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Comedy gold :)…looks like Romanians don’t have an exactly acute sense of irony :)…

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Yes, we Romanians are all the same. Identical clones both in looks and behavior, exactly as all Americans are fat and stupid, or so others say.

I do have a short fuse though, especially when fighting stupid (there it goes, I put a label again!).

If all around this board wants to deny the incidents which took place even in US is fine, but the solution is to improve the technology if is possible, not pushing it with all costs, everywhere, and dismissing anything as BS.

Rookie on March 21, 2014 at 2:42 PM

I really like to write cow farts.

cozmo on March 21, 2014 at 2:39 PM

In that case, my theory is the earthquake was the result of Rosanne Barr and Michael Moore getting together for a Mexican breakfast…

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:03 PM

If all around this board wants to deny the incidents which took place even in US is fine, but the solution is to improve the technology if is possible, not pushing it with all costs, everywhere, and dismissing anything as BS.

Rookie on March 21, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Nobody argued for pushing it at all costs, and they do work on improving the technology, only dishonest tools would claim otherwise. And it is BS to actually to blame a 4.5 earthquake in an area close to (or right on) one of the most famous and most researched faults in the world, and to hundreds of others that we know nothing of, an area that gets an average of 2,000 earthquakes a year (M1.5A or greater), and about 200 a month. Believe me, I know, I live in SoCal. As for the rest, for someone who’s throwing insults left and right, as I documented in my above post, you are a bit too sensitive, don’t you think, as in ‘you can dish it out but you can’t take’, it or something…and btw, thanks for the lesson in cultural sensitivity, but my comment re: the sense if irony was not entirely gratuitous, my mom was born in Romania (of Jewish descent) and left to France with her parents when she was v.young, my dad is French, I was born and raised in France, lived in the UK for a while until I moved to California 6 years ago, so yeah, throwing stereotyping cliches at folks is my thing :)… heck, I’m the poster boy for them :)…

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 3:12 PM

heck, I’m the poster boy for them :)…

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 3:12 PM

My Mom is half or more French-Canadian – but I love French military jokes. I’ve got a lot of other stuff mixed in as well – and for my kids we add in my wife’s Irish and Norwegian background.
Whatever – I just don’t take any that stuff personally.
I’d get more offended if someone accused me of being a liberal Dem….

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:24 PM

What is wrong with these people? They live right next to a fault that’s been there for millenia. What are they doing on a City Council?

oldennis on March 21, 2014 at 3:26 PM

What is wrong with these people? They live right next to a fault that’s been there for millenia. What are they doing on a City Council?

oldennis on March 21, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Clueless people are everywhere.
I once had a Cali transplant ask me after a town council meeting (I was on the town council at the time) when we were going to move the town’s public works maintenance yard – because it was too noisy and dirty right across the (dirt) road from her house.
The town yard had been where it was for over 60 years. She had been in her house 2 years, and the house was only 10 years old anyway.
Can you guess the tone of my answer?

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:32 PM

What is wrong with these people? They live right next to a fault that’s been there for millenia. What are they doing on a City Council?

oldennis on March 21, 2014 at 3:26 PM

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:32 PM

BTW – there is also a railroad line right through the middle of town, in fact about 120 feet from the back of my house. I also told her she would NEVER hear me publicly complain about train noise, because I chose to buy that house knowing full well the train tracks were right there. (I don’t live there any more, FWIW)

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:35 PM

heck, I’m the poster boy for them :)…

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 3:12 PM

My Mom is half or more French-Canadian – but I love French military jokes. I’ve got a lot of other stuff mixed in as well – and for my kids we add in my wife’s Irish and Norwegian background.
Whatever – I just don’t take any that stuff personally.
I’d get more offended if someone accused me of being a liberal Dem….

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:24 PM

My wife is half American, half French-Canadian :) and she’s got an almost insane sense of humor :), she got out of the AF recently but she used to supply me with the best French mil jokes, her colleagues always obliged :)…HR is also a trove in that respect :)… Personally, I have no prob taking French jokes, I actually make them myself all the time :)…being called a progressive, liberal, or whatever it is that they call themselves these days – is not particularly funny, so I’m afraid no amount of sense of humor would help with that…

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 3:50 PM

HA not HR, that is…

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 4:01 PM

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 3:50 PM

I also joke, in a disgusted sort of way about my “proud” family military history:
One family line descended from the Campbell Clan of Scotland (the traitors who sided with England), one line of the family name supposedly ends at the Civil War due to a deserter from the Union Army; great uncle went blind in the Navy in WW2 from a bad batch of “torpedo juice”; half brother kicked out of the Navy during Vietnam for possession of narcotics, and others….

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 4:02 PM

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 4:02 PM

That’s why I don’t want to ‘dig’ too deep into this whole genealogy thing, you never know what ‘crazy uncles’ or great uncles pop up :)…I went as far as WW2 and a little before that, and thankful we don’t have any Vichy types in there, neither do we have any commy sympathizers in our relatively recent family history, now borh would have been a bit on the embarrassing if not unpalatable side…as for going further back, no thanks, but there probably are some nutjobs somehwere in there, in our tree…as long as they are not the inventors of the guillotine :)…

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Have you ever been in a 2.5-3.5?? You kid slamming your front door will rattle your house more than a 3.5 will. (Yes, I live in Southern California and have been through thousands of 2.3-3.5 earthquakes, by your 4th or 5th 3.5, you don’t even notice them any more.

oscarwilde on March 21, 2014 at 12:49 PM

I lived in L.A. A 4 point just rattles the lamps and life goes on. The 6.5 was enough to cause damage and scare the hell out of foreigners (people from the midwest).

crankyoldlady on March 21, 2014 at 4:29 PM

I once had a Cali transplant ask me after a town council meeting (I was on the town council at the time) when we were going to move the town’s public works maintenance yard – because it was too noisy and dirty right across the (dirt) road from her house.
The town yard had been where it was for over 60 years. She had been in her house 2 years, and the house was only 10 years old anyway.
Can you guess the tone of my answer?

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:32 PM

You heartless conservative you.

That’s like the people who move next to the airport and complain about the planes.

crankyoldlady on March 21, 2014 at 4:32 PM

First of all, the biggest of these events struggle to make it up into the range of a mid 3 level quake…

Second, the quakes are more notable because they have been happening in places which rarely if ever see them.

Third, I’d wager (but haven’t really studied, so admittedly I can’t guarantee) that the “epicenter” of the quake is where (or very near where) you’re injecting something into the earth. It’s not going to be miles away from where you’re doing stuff.

How close is the nearest fracking site to the fault-line epicenter for this quake? We can determine the epicenter after all, where’s the fracking that was there? Was there any?

I’m pretty sure they don’t let you drill directly on the fault lines (this information provided by a Psych episode, so may not be entirely accurate).

As for the difference between a mid-3 and a 4.4… I’m surprised you didn’t clarify that the Richter scale is an “exponential” scale.

A 2 is 10X a 1. A 3 is 10X a 2. And a 4 is 10X a 3.

So you’d need something ten times more powerful than a mid-3 to get a mid-4, not just a little bit more shakey.

gekkobear on March 21, 2014 at 4:38 PM

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Well, I know I have a family tree full of assorted fruits, nuts, and flakes (granola tree?) so I figure I just have to laugh about it. No use in getting too update about history that can’t be changed.

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 4:41 PM

You heartless conservative you.
That’s like the people who move next to the airport and complain about the planes.

crankyoldlady on March 21, 2014 at 4:32 PM

You betcha.
We have a lot of those airport whiners here as well – around the Air Force Academy. Any time the Academy makes any changes to their flight patterns, there’s always somebody bound to go off about those “noisy dam little prop-job planes flying right over my house”. And you’d think the Russians were invading and bombing the neighborhood when the Air Force does football game flyovers with the big jets.

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 4:49 PM

First of all, the biggest of these events struggle to make it up into the range of a mid 3 level quake…

Second, the quakes are more notable because they have been happening in places which rarely if ever see them.

Third, I’d wager (but haven’t really studied, so admittedly I can’t guarantee) that the “epicenter” of the quake is where (or very near where) you’re injecting something into the earth. It’s not going to be miles away from where you’re doing stuff.

How close is the nearest fracking site to the fault-line epicenter for this quake? We can determine the epicenter after all, where’s the fracking that was there? Was there any?

gekkobear on March 21, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Not to mention the earthquake was so deep (9 km depth), induced earthquakes are shallower. In fact fracking is really not that wide spread in Cali as some might thing, it’s mainly acid jobs, which is a rather old method and involves pumping chemicals into wells to melt rock and other impediments to oil flows. But sure, there is fracking going on in Ventura and Kern counties, which both neighbor LA county (fracking has been banned in LA proper, not in LA county, well, not yet), and some in Antelope Valley (LA county), but no idea which well is closest to the epicenter of the recent 4.5 one. All I know is that the most prolific fracking takes place in Kern county, I think Halliburton developed those wells.

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 5:05 PM

Rookie?

Just want to make one point. Fracking is a VERY brief process in the completion of a modern-day well.

Hydraulic fracturing takes only 4-7 days, depending on how many stages are fracked and how much trouble they run into. And as soon as fracking is over, flowbacks start, which is the REMOVAL of all that water and fracking fluids, so that the pressure is REDUCED within just a few days.

Once production starts, all that gas and oil being removed reduce the pressure even further.

So, if your theory is that fracking (which lasts just a handful of days) increases pressure in the underlying formation which CAUSES earthquakes, wouldn’t it be equally true that later gas and oil production would REDUCE the chance for earthquakes- long term, in fact?

Rookie?

Pless1foEngrish on March 21, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Pless1foEngrish on March 21, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Your moniker is hilarious :)

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 5:14 PM

Pless1foEngrish on March 21, 2014 at 5:08 PM
Your moniker is hilarious :)

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 5:14 PM

I didn’t really notice the whole thing until you mentioned it.
Yes – absolutely hilarious – I rike it vely much.
2 thumbs up!!

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Whenever there is a halfwitted measure aimed at taxpayers wallets, I can always be sure that Clowncilman Paul Koretz is at its forefront.

This is the same gasbag who first proposed banning plastic bags in the city …which is now law.

The Ugly American on March 21, 2014 at 6:04 PM

This is the same gasbag who first proposed banning plastic bags in the city …which is now law.

The Ugly American on March 21, 2014 at 6:04 PM

That’s the scariest part…didn’t know it was the same dude…

jimver on March 21, 2014 at 7:09 PM

Pressure injection in unstable shale deposits can lead to some shifting in the area of the drilling, and it’s apparently allowed a few slips in the strata to be measured at the surface. I didn’t believe it myself until some energy company folks began digging into it.

Jazz Shaw on March 21, 2014 at 11:21 AM

.
I guess I can chuckle and groan simultaneously.

listens2glenn on March 21, 2014 at 7:35 PM

So did they Hire Courtney Love yet??

ToddPA on March 21, 2014 at 7:38 PM

Kind of ironic. I see an banner ad for the Global Defense Fund about fighting global warming on H/A’s main page.

MJBrutus on March 21, 2014 at 7:56 PM

I think someone was mishandling the Red Matter stockpiled at Berkeley.

flataffect on March 21, 2014 at 11:23 PM

OT: Speaking of bad reporting… BREAKING NEWZ

LaughterJones on March 21, 2014 at 11:34 PM

I think the councilmen are right–this should be looked into. While they’re at it, they should also look into whether fracking caused the Sylmar, Northridge, Landers/Big Bear, Whittier Narrows, Hector Mines, Newport-Inglewood, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. quakes.

ajb3 on March 22, 2014 at 1:35 AM

The level of stupidity rising to the top in CA is amazing. They must be in the let’s spend more tax payer money on a silly green whim party.

Kissmygrits on March 22, 2014 at 9:13 AM

LA City Council….. the definition of liberal hypocrisy and lunacy. They would be better off worrying about things like water.

ultracon on March 22, 2014 at 12:13 PM

If indeed fracking did excite an earthquake, then California has found a way to minimize the magnitude of quakes. They should be begging oil companies to frack.

I would rather have a 4.4 once a week forever then have to go thru one 8.0.

esnap on March 22, 2014 at 1:04 PM

I’d get more offended if someone accused me of being a liberal Dem….

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:24 PM

that calls for a duel!

Doyle Hargrave on March 22, 2014 at 1:58 PM

California, the face of complete stupidity.

Diluculo on March 22, 2014 at 5:11 PM

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