Saturday, July 26 2014 6:44 AM EDT2014-07-26 10:44:31 GMT
The Ohio State marching band is moving forward without its director; a day after he was fired they're performing with the Columbus Symphony in what's often considered the band's unofficial season kickoff.More >>
Having forced out a beloved football coach and watched its president retire after a series of verbal gaffes, Ohio State University again finds itself grabbing headlines with the firing of a celebrated marching band...More >>
Saturday, July 26 2014 6:44 AM EDT2014-07-26 10:44:13 GMT
A federal judge has dismissed a Wyoming man's lawsuit claiming a group secretly found the missing airplane of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart in the South Pacific but kept it quiet so it could continue to raise...More >>
A federal judge on Friday dismissed a Wyoming man's claims that an aircraft recovery group secretly found wreckage of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart's missing airplane in the South Pacific but kept it quiet so it...More >>
Saturday, July 26 2014 2:02 AM EDT2014-07-26 06:02:47 GMT
Police are searching for two men who carjacked an SUV and plowed into a group of children and adults selling fruit at a Philadelphia street corner, killing three kids and seriously injuring two women.More >>
Police were searching for two men who carjacked an SUV and plowed into a group of children and adults selling fruit to raise money for their church, killing three kids and critically injuring their mother and the...More >>
Friday, July 25 2014 11:56 PM EDT2014-07-26 03:56:40 GMT
Police have arrested the foster parent of a 10-month-old girl who died after being left inside a hot car in Wichita, Kansas.More >>
A 10-month-old Kansas girl died after being strapped for more than two hours inside a sweltering car, and police arrested a foster parent who said he'd forgotten about her until something on TV jogged his memory, an...More >>
Friday, July 25 2014 10:33 PM EDT2014-07-26 02:33:36 GMT
U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake was attending a ceremony for a judicial colleague when he received an urgent - and unusual - request: Lawyers for a condemned inmate wanted him to stop an execution that didn't...More >>
U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture.More >>
By EMILY SCHMALL and JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS Associated Press
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - States where hydraulic fracturing is taking place have seen a surge in earthquake activity, raising suspicions that the unconventional drilling method could be to blame, especially the wells where the industry disposes of its wastewater.
Fracking generates vast amounts of wastewater, far more than traditional drilling methods. The water is pumped into injection wells, which send the waste thousands of feet underground. No one knows for certain exactly what happens to the liquids after that. Scientists wonder whether they could trigger quakes by increasing underground pressures and lubricating faults.
Oklahoma has recorded nearly 250 small-to-medium earthquakes since January, according to statistics kept by the U.S. Geological Survey. That's close to half of all the magnitude 3 or higher earthquakes recorded this year in the continental United States.
A study published earlier this month in the journal Science suggests that just four wells injecting massive amounts of drilling wastewater into the ground are probably shaking up much of the state, accounting for one out of every five quakes from the eastern border of Colorado to the Atlantic coast.
Another concern is whether injection well operators could be pumping either too much water into the ground or pumping it at exceedingly high pressures.
Most of the quakes in areas where injection wells are clustered are too weak to cause serious damage or endanger lives. Yet they've led some states, including Ohio, Oklahoma and California, to introduce new rules compelling drillers to measure the volumes and pressures of their injection wells as well as to monitor seismicity during fracking operations.
Here are some answers to key questions about the phenomenon:
Q: HOW MANY QUAKES HAVE THERE BEEN NEAR WASTEWATER INJECTION AREAS?
A: Researchers are still debating the appropriate parameters for measuring the link between injection wells and earthquakes, including at what distances injections can possibly stimulate quakes. Previously seismologists had linked injection wells to earthquakes occurring within 3 miles of injection sites, but a new study tracks earthquakes as far as 20 miles away from wells.
Q: HOW DAMAGING HAVE THEY BEEN?
A: No injuries or deaths have been reported, but there has been varying degrees of property damage. Most of the quakes are big enough to be felt but too small to do damage like classic California or Japanese quakes. In the North Texas city of Azle, which has endured hundreds of small earthquakes since fracking and injection well activity began, residents have reported sinkholes, cracks in the walls of homes and air and water quality concerns. Two structures collapsed during Oklahoma's 5.7-magnitude earthquake in 2011.
Q: WHAT DOES THE MOST RECENT RESEARCH SAY ABOUT THE LINK BETWEEN THE TWO?
A: Studies on the swarms of temblors in central Oklahoma, Ohio and North Texas have found probable links between injection wells and earthquakes, with the caveat that a dearth of information on conditions underground before the injections began makes it difficult to unequivocally link them to quakes. However, studies more than 50 years old have linked injection wells to tremors in Colorado.
Q: HOW HAS THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY RESPONDED TO THESE STUDIES?
Wastewater injection disposal does risk inducing earthquakes, said Dana Bohan with Energy In Depth, a research and education arm of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, a Washington-based group that represents thousands of oil and natural gas producers. However, Bohan said, very few events have been documented over the decades in which the disposal wells have been in operation.
Q: HAVEN'T SMALL QUAKES BEEN SEEN AS POSSIBLE PRECURSORS TO LARGER QUAKES?
A: Large quakes follow small quakes about 1 percent of the time, according to Stephen Horton, research scientist at Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis. However, when earthquakes are induced by wastewater injection, large quakes typically do follow smaller ones, depending on the quantity of water injected into the subsurface, Horton said.
Danielle Sumy, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Southern California and a former USGS visiting scientist, was the lead researcher on a study published in March that said a magnitude-5.0 quake in Oklahoma induced by nearby wastewater injection early on Nov. 6, 2011, set off subtle pressure changes that triggered earthquakes along the fault, almost like dominoes, before finding relief in the 5.7 temblor later that day.
Juozapavicius reported from Tulsa, Okla. AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed from Washington.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Saturday, July 26 2014 7:06 AM EDT2014-07-26 11:06:03 GMT
A 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire has begun to allow civilians in Gaza to receive aid and evacuate to safer areas.More >>
Thousands of Gaza residents who had fled Israel-Hamas fighting streamed back to devastated border areas during a lull Saturday to find large-scale destruction: scores of homes were pulverized, wreckage blocked roads and...More >>
Saturday, July 26 2014 12:55 AM EDT2014-07-26 04:55:58 GMT
European Union ambassadors have reached a preliminary deal on stepped-up sanctions against Russia, targeting its access to European capital markets and trade in the defense sector, dual-use goods and sensitive...More >>
The European Union on Friday extended its Ukraine-related sanctions to target top Russian intelligence officials and leaders of the pro-Russia revolt in eastern Ukraine, official documents showed.More >>