USGS study eyes Caribbean tsunami risk

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Could there be a tsunami in the Caribbean?

Guadeloupe seen as focal point for unreleased tectonic strain

Staff Report

FRISCO — The risk of a large earthquake and subsequent tsunami may be greater than previously thought, U.S. Geological Survey researchers say after studying the plate boundary in the Lesser Antilles region, where 20 of the 26 Caribbean islands are located.

The geologists estimate that enough unreleased strain may have accumulated offshore of Guadeloupe to potentially create a magnitude 8.0-8.4 earthquake. A magnitude 7.5 – 8.5 quake in 1843 killed several thousand people in Guadeloupe, and a similar quake in the future could cause several tens to several hundreds of fatalities, and hundreds of millions to billions of U.S. dollars in damages. Continue reading

Geologists warn of increased Oklahoma quake risk

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Geologists say a recent swarm of earthquakes in Oklahoma has increased the overall risk of tremors around Oklahoma City. Map courtesy Oklahoma Geological Survey.

Study suggests recent swarm of tremors is related to injection of fracking wastewater

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — State and federal geologists are teaming up to study a swarm of earthquakes that have rattled central Oklahoma, evaluating possible links between these earthquakes and wastewater disposal related to oil and gas production activities in the region.

Since January 2009, more than 200 magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes have rattled Central Oklahoma, marking a significant rise in the frequency of these seismic events. In a press release, the U.S. Geological Survey said a preliminary analysis suggests that the recent tremors are linked with the injection of wastewater from oil and gas drilling activities in the region.

We’ve statistically analyzed the recent earthquake rate changes and found that they do not seem to be due to typical, random fluctuations in natural seismicity rates,” said USGS seismologist Bill Leith. “These results suggest that significant changes in both the background rate of events and earthquake triggering properties needed to have occurred in order to explain the increases in seismicity. This is in contrast to what is typically observed when modeling natural earthquake swarms.” Continue reading

Ohio earthquakes linked with fracking waste disposal

Geologic study leaves little room for doubt

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A Dec. 31, 2011 earthquake linked with fracking rattled plaster around Youngstown, Ohio.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Youngstown, Ohio, seemingly on stable ground, had never experienced an earthquate going all the way back to 1776. But that all changed in December 2010, when a newly built well started to pump fracking wastewater into the ground.

Starting in January 2011, seismic instruments recorded 109 tremors, and a careful study of the pattern of earthquakes — as strong as a magnitude 3.9 — suggests they are linked to the well in neighboring Pennsylvania. Continue reading

Study: Oregon could be due for a killer quake

Parts of the Cascadia subduction zone may be overdue for a large earthquake. Map courtesy USGS.

New research documents timeline of Pacific Northwest fault activity

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Pacific Northwest could be due for a monster earthquake sometime in the next 50 years, with Oregon’s southern coast pinpointed as the most vulnerable area, according to Oregon State University researchers who recently finished studying the pattern of historical quakes in the region.

The comprehensive analysis of the Cascadia Subduction Zone confirms numerous earthquakes during the past 10,000 years and estimates that a new quake could approach the intensity of the Tohoku quake that devastated Japan in March 2011.

“The southern margin of Cascadia has a much higher recurrence level for major earthquakes than the northern end and, frankly, it is overdue for a rupture,” said Chris Goldfinger, a professor in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and lead author of the study. “That doesn’t mean that an earthquake couldn’t strike first along the northern half, from Newport, Ore., to Vancouver Island. Continue reading

Earthquakes destroy, but can also restore ecoysystems

Study in Chile shows importance of protecting sandy beaches as barriers against rising sea level

This March 2010 photograph of the beach at Punta Lavapie reveals the extent of the uplift –– these former subtidal rocky bottoms were completely submerged in water –– at all times –– prior to the Maule earthquake and tsunami.
PHOTO COURTESY EDUARDO JARAMILLO.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The devastating 2010 earthquake and tsunami in Chile had some unexpected consequences, restoring lost beaches and even entire coastal ecoystems, according to an international team of researchers who had a unique opportunity to take a close before-and-after look at the ecological impact of the 8.8 magnitude temblor.

“Dune plants are coming back in places there haven’t been plants, as far as we know, for a very long time. The earthquake created sandy beach habitat where it had been lost. This is not the initial ecological response you might expect from a major earthquake and tsunami,” said Jenifer Dugan, an associate research biologist at UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute. Continue reading

‘Startling’ increase in earthquakes linked with oil and gas drilling

Geologists document growing number of small quakes in the midsection of the country

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey say they’ve detected a “remarkable” increase in the rate of earthquakes in the middle of the country, most likely related to oil and gas drilling activities.

All in all, the average number of quakes magnitude 3 or greater has increased six-fold since 2001 over 20th century levels. None of the quakes have caused injuries or property damage.

“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,” USGS researchers wrote in an abstract of a recent paper. Continue reading

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