Quakes strike fracked oil reserve in Ireland, Gov Says

Here's some news about fracking and earthquakes in Ireland:

The largest earthquakes since 1843 have been confirmed by the British Geological Survey in the same area of the Irish Sea that suffered tremors directly linked to shale gas fracking.

The two quakes occurred on Sunday morning with a magnitude 3.2 ML earthquake recorded at 10.58am, preceded by a magnitude 2.4 ML foreshock at 6.37am in the same location off the Fylde Coast, 25km west of Fleetwood, Lancashire.

Seismologists at the British Geological Survey confirmed today that both earthquakes were the largest to have occurred in the Irish Sea since a series of three tremors, with magnitudes ranging from 3.8 to 5, were recorded in March 1843.

To translate from the scientific/newspaperese: This is an area that almost never had earthquakes, and now after fracking they're happening frequently. 

To be fair, these aren't big quakes: 

One report described how the largest earthquake “felt as a low frequency swaying. Very short duration, no more than a second or two”, and another added: “sat at the computer, and the desk shook, an my stomach moved (a mild feeling like you get on a roller coaster just before a drop)”. 

Another report received by the British Geological Survey described: “it felt like the whole house moved south to north for a second and then I looked around and saw a large artificial tree shaking”, and another added: “sofa shook and keys were swinging in the door was sitting on chair which had vibrations going through it as well”.

But here's the really amazing part. The government found a link between the practice of fracking and the occurence of earthquakes, and ordered the company to stop fracking. (Well, almost.) 

In November 2011, the UK Government threatened to call a halt to controversial gas drilling in the area after independent geology reports confirmed a series of earthquakes the previous summer were linked to shale gas extraction.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) had warned gas company Cuadrilla Resources to follow the report recommendations, which connected fracking to two earth tremors that shook the Lancashire coastline in May.

Geologists reported the epicentre of one 1.5 magnitude quake on May 27 was within 500 yards of the well of the fracking operation and the second 2.3 tremor on April 1 originated less than two miles away.

The report “The Geo-mechanical Study of Bowland Shale Seismicity” claimed that there was little risk of future seismic events reoccurring in the Bowland Basin but proposed a series of mitigation measures in case of any future seismic activity.

This report was released after Cuadrilla was ordered to be fully open with the community about all the report findings.

Then the government ordered the oil company to be completely transparent in its operations! Given that the great state of California does not currently regulate fracking on its lands, it's kind of jaw-dropping. 

Here's a pic from a story about fracking on the North Coast of Ireland from veteran environmental reporter Geoffrey Lean:  


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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