Is it possible to induce an earthquake

08 Dec

We’ve heard of experiments carried out by the US Navy on the high seas intentionally causing small earthquakes, but unintentionally activities carried out on the ground can induce earthquakes, an international team of researchers documented the discovery of this new type in research carried out in British Columbia, Canada, and published in Nature Communications last month.

The earthquake was discovered when the team was studying an earthquake caused by hydraulic fracturing, a method used in western Canada to extract oil and gas, and that this is what characterizes the so-called induced earthquake, the action of pumping water into rocks, the saying goes soft water on hard stone, in this case it not only pierces but can cause an earthquake.

With a network of eight seismic stations, located around an injection well a few kilometers apart, the researchers led by Phd Hongyu Yu, from the Geological Research Institute of Canada and by Rebeca Harrington, professor of geology at University of Bochum recorded seismic data from approximately 350 earthquakes, of course all of low intensity but similar to the volcanic ones, and this suggests a few more observations on current eruptions.

The observation is that 10% of the identified earthquakes had unique characteristics, that they break more slowly, but very similar to volcanic earthquakes.

The analysis suggests that these earthquakes caused by human actions, are slower and have a long duration, and as they expand they become a mixture of the two types, therefore they are induced, and the conclusion is that human actions can cause and worsen the conditions for future earthquakes and eruptions in volcanic areas.

The two consequences are then that the fluid pumped into the rock generates a pressure increase sufficient to generate a network of fractures close to the well, while a second consequence is that the action exerts a change in elastic tension in the neighboring rocks that can be transmitted over distances longer, with serious consequences.

If before we imagined that only the vegetal part of nature should be respected, it was discovered that rocks, stream beds and stone deposits should also be taken care of.



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