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Number of Human-induced Earthquakes is on the Rise

Mining projects and dams are responsible for 60% of human-induced or anthropomorphic earthquakes around the world, according to data from the Seismological Society of America.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Albany, CA, United States (4E) – Mining projects and dams are responsible for 60% of human-induced or anthropomorphic earthquakes around the world, according to data from the Seismological Society of America.

The Human-Induced Earthquake Database (HiQuake), the world’s most complete database of earthquake sequences proposed to have been triggered by human activity, reveals that mining projects (37%) and water impounded behind dams (23%) are the most common causes of induced earthquakes.

Unconventional oil and gas extraction projects using fracking or hydraulic fracturing are now a frequent addition to the database, said Miles Wilson, a geophysicist at Durham University working on the HiQuake research effort.

Other human activities related to unconventional extraction contribute to induced earthquakes as well. The most obvious induced seismicity trend in HiQuake is the recent increase in the number of waste-fluid disposal projects reported to have induced earthquakes. This increase is consistent with increased waste-fluid disposal activities in the USA.

“Any successful hydraulic fracturing operation induces microseismicity because the rock is fractured. The number of hydraulically fractured boreholes has increased in recent years, so there is obviously going to be a trend between the number of successfully hydraulically fractured boreholes and the amount of associated microseismicity,” said Wilson.

“The more important trend is that between hydraulically fractured boreholes and unusually large earthquakes, most likely related to the reactivation of pre-existing geological faults.”

HiQuake, which is freely available at http://www.inducedearthquakes.org, was first developed in 2016 by a group of researchers from Durham and Newcastle Universities, who were funded by the Dutch oil and gas company Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij to review the full global extent of induced earthquakes.

The largest proposed induced earthquake in the database was the 2008 magnitude 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake that occurred in China in response to the impoundment of the Zipingpu Reservoir only a few kilometers away from the mainshock epicenter.

The HiQuake researchers were initially surprised to find that such large magnitude earthquakes were proposed as induced but most of the stress released in these cases is of natural tectonic origin.

“The anthropogenic activity is just the final straw that releases this built-up stress,” said Wilson.

Wilson and colleagues were also surprised by the variety of proposed causes for these quakes, including nuclear explosions and the building of heavy skyscrapers.

“With hindsight we probably shouldn’t be surprised by any anthropogenic cause. All anthropogenic projects influence forces acting in the Earth’s crust, for example by adding or removing mass, so we shouldn’t be surprised that the Earth responds to these changes and that in some cases earthquakes are the response.”

Human activities that act on the crust are likely to multiply in the future, Wilson noted, as projects to tap into geothermal sources of energy and to store carbon dioxide emissions become more widespread.

To build the database, Wilson and his colleagues analyzed peer-reviewed literature, academic presentations, media articles, and industry and government reports for projects where scientific evidence suggests that the human activity was the cause of an earthquake sequence.

Each entry in the database corresponds to a project, or phase of a project. The projects extend back almost 150 years, with most maximum observed magnitude earthquakes falling between magnitude 3 and 4.

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Environment

Fight vs Climate Change Given Teeth with New Rules

The rules that will implement the 2015 Paris Agreement have been approved by nearly 200 countries following a contentious and sometimes rowdy series of meetings in Katowice, Poland.

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Katowice, Poland (4E) – The rules that will implement the 2015 Paris Agreement have been approved by nearly 200 countries following a contentious and sometimes rowdy series of meetings in Katowice, Poland.

United Nations’ member countries party to the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference will implement the new rules in 2020. The new rules are detailed in a 156-page rulebook broken down into themes. These themes include how countries will report and monitor their national pledges to curb greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions and update their emissions plans.

The 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference is the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24). It’s informally known as the Katowice Climate Change Conference and was held from Dec. 2 to 15. It was held to give flesh to the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement’s long-term goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. It also seeks to limit the increase to 1.5°C since this level will greatly reduce the risks and effects of climate change.

Proponents of the new rules consider them a good foundation for countries to go about implementing the Paris Agreement.

“It is not easy to find agreement on a deal so specific and technical,” said Michal Kurtyka, the Polish president of the talks. “Through this package you have made a thousand little steps forward together. You can feel proud.”

Before the Katowice talks began, many expected the deal might not be as robust as it needed to be. The unity palpable at the Paris talks has weakened, mainly due to Trump’s ignorant opposition to the existence of climate change and global warming.

One of the talk’s leaders complained about the fact countries had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the finish line. He said this shows that some nations — especially Trump’s America — have not woken up to the urgent call of the report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC in October warned that keeping the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5C will need “unprecedented changes” in every aspect of society.

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Environment

Largest Known Diamond in North America Unearthed in Canada

The largest diamond ever discovered in North America — a gem weighing-in at 552 carats – was recently unearthed in Canada.

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Northwest Territorries, Canada (4E) – The largest diamond ever discovered in North America — a gem weighing-in at 552 carats – was recently unearthed in Canada.

Canadian mining company Dominion Diamond Mines said the yellow diamond was unearthed in October at the Diavik Diamond Mine located in Northern Canada about 135 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

This still unnamed diamond, which is about the size of a chicken egg, is the seventh-biggest this century. Dominion Diamond Mines called the gemstone “astonishing.”

The company said abrasion markings on the surface of the 552 carat gemstone attest to the difficult journey it underwent during recovery, and the fact that it remains intact is remarkable.

Dominion CEO Shane Durgin said the diamond is gem quality. This means the gemstone is suitable for jewelry.

Since it’s still being evaluated, this diamond’s ultimate worth hasn’t been determined. It will not be sold in its rough form and will be polished to ramp-up its value.

The 552 carat gem is almost three times the size of the Diavik Foxfire, which is next largest stone ever found in Canada. Diavik Foxfire is a 187.7 carat gem-quality diamond unearthed in the same mine by the Rio Tinto Group.

it was later turned into a pair of yellow earrings, which sold for more than $1.5 million. That stone is about one-third the weight of this new diamond.

Yellow stones typically sell at a discount to Type IIa top whites often found in the best African mines. The highest quality fancy vivid yellow or fancy intense yellow stones can sell for a premium.

In 2015, a 1,111 carat diamond was discovered at a mine in Botswana. The size of a human palm, it came second to only the 3,106 carat Cullinan diamond, which was found in 1905 in South Africa.

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Environment

Warming Arctic Imperils our Planet, Says NOAA

The Arctic has been warmer for the past five years than at any other time since 1900 when records began being kept, and this doesn’t bode well for the future, says a report from the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

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Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The Arctic has been warmer for the past five years than at any other time since 1900 when records began being kept, and this doesn’t bode well for the future, says a report from the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The “2018 Arctic Report Card” from NOAA reveals the Arctic had its second-hottest year on record in 2018. This spike is part of an inexorable warming trend that stands to dramatically change the Earth’s weather patterns in coming years.

The NOAA report said 2018 was second only to 2016 in overall warmth in the Arctic. The report also revealed the Arctic experienced its second warmest air temperatures and second lowest sea-ice coverage last year.

More worryingly, polar temperatures are increasing at double the global average rate. This massive jump is causing unexpected changes in the global environment being experienced today.

The rapid Arctic warming is the most unprecedented transition in human history, said Dr Emily Osborne, who led the report. Dr Osborne said these momentous changes are impacting Arctic residents and have the potential to affect people well beyond the region.

She pointed out that in the 13 years that NOAA has been publishing these reports, the warming trend has continued to increase in severity.

The rising atmospheric warmth in the Arctic causes a sluggish and unusual jet-stream that coincides with abnormal weather events, said the report. It said the changing patterns have often brought unusually frigid temperatures to areas south of the Arctic Circle.

Some examples are the swarm of severe winter storms in the eastern United States in 2018. There’s also the frigid outbreak in Europe in March 2018 better known as the Beast from the East.

Environmentalists have long warned against dangers posed by the rapid warming in the Arctic. This unnatural warmth also threatens imperiled species like polar bears, and is a precursor of the broader impacts of climate change on the Earth.

In addition, scientists have warned the Arctic will suffer trillions of dollars worth of climate change-related damage to infrastructure over the coming decades.

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