Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Windsor Hum - A fine case of acoustic-seismic ground coupling Part 1

I don’t hear the hum in my east Windsor stomping grounds, but I heard it loud and clear recently playing in a charity golf tournament at Essex Golf Club.
It sounded  like a locomotive lumbering down the tracks or the rumbling of distant thunder, but it was consistent and it actually seemed to pulse — like the hearbeat of an alien!

There is a very old and ugly blast furnace, located in Detroit.  It is just opposite residential housing in Windsor, Ontario.  It was abandoned for a time, and restarted in 2009.

A blast furnace takes ore and coal, and shoves in the top.  Hot gas and extra air goes up through the bottom

I couldn't find much on vibration monitoring for these things, but the vibration is intense for a run.  The run ends when the tap hole is blown, and the hot melted iron is poured out.

It's difficult finding things that aren't sucked up by Elsevier.  As you are aware, they have bought the US gov't for a few million bucks, to extend the paywall, and thus enrich their pockets.

I'll continue if there is any interest.

Chicago gets tiny earthquake


“We’re still working on that. That’s what puts the seismologists through school,” Larson said.

I just put this up for that quote!  Other than that, this is about as minor as you can get.

Monday, January 30, 2012

US Attacks Canada with Hum Warfare


WINDSOR, Ont. — After an “intense,” unsettling weekend, Windsor residents plagued by a loud and mysterious hum are asking the federal government to take action.
“It’s time for the federal government to step up and initiate correspondence with the U.S.,” said David Robins, a partner at the Sutts, Strosberg law firm.

Load the cannons!  Get the muskets!  It's 1812 all over again!

Unfortunately, this comes from the total lack of any seismic monitoring in the US.  We can only generally locate it from our side.

Update-  I really want a G+ hangout on this, but it's only good if the hummees show up.

Update2 - Yeah, I was humming to myself for 4 minutes.  Did manage to research some good stuff.

Ontario to get Westinghouse AP1000?


Westinghouse currently has more than 150 Canadian suppliers that provide a range of products and services for the Westinghouse fuel, services, automation and nuclear power plant product lines. The company also says that utilities in Canada are expressing interest in its new reactors – both the AP1000 and the Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor, a 200 MW integral PWR currently under development.

I knew it!  We've got Pickering crumbling to dust, and Darlington shaking itself apart.  We can't install SNC hamster wheels to power the place.  Here it comes -- a string of AP1000's at Wesleyville (no room at Darl.).  And while we're at it, throw in the underground storage.  :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Global Warming: Panic or Do Nothing


"Bunch of guys say don't panic over GW"

I think that's the nature of the debate in the US.  One side tries to generate a panic in order to get anything done, and another side says 'Don't Panic' which is the same as 'do nothing'.

The rational course is to put a uniform tax on fuel, etc.  The same with all this fracking, since it can't be good to inject billions of gallons of water into stressed faults.  But the debate is always 'Let it alone', or 'Prohibition'.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nuclear waste repositories move ahead


And just yesterday I was complaining that nothing was happening!

With the sudden re-interest in the Chalk River site, Canada continues to favour the worst sites in the world. I have never mentioned this site because I followed the original studies 20-30 years ago.  This is truly the 'Heart of Darkness' for seismically active sites, right where a megathrust comes against the Ottawa Graben and the active Western Quebec Zone.  Just up the river we had the M6.2 Timiskaming earthquake.

And the Bruce hearings go ahead.  They should be about as much fun as the Darlington hearings!  In other words, absolute nonsense.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

West Texas injection earthquakes get juicy!

I said this was a good spot, and lookee here yo-all!  This is an M3.6 which is starting to get interesting.  Unlike carbon in the air, we have some real physics here.  I am sooo smug right now!

Update:  This is an active zone, probably where the megathrust hits the mountains.  They can't possibly be injecting there!  That would be horrendous!  If we can find out that there is no injection there, then it is natural, and I can eat my earthquake.

Update2:  They've been injecting and getting big earthquakes since it all started.  Really riding the tail of the dragon!

Confirming new Arkansas injection earthquake cluster

This is exciting!  This may be just outside their 'moratorium' area, and may have an injection well.  I can't tell because there are thousands of wells in this area, and they only have very fuzzy maps.  I was really thinking they just tapped into the very high dammed lake, but it is more fun if this is an injection cluster.  Really looks like one.

If somebody had a better map, and told me there was no injection well, then it's just water slipping from the lake.  Same result.

If it is injection, then I expect it will follow the exact same pattern as before, but probably cut off a little earlier, since they are a tad jumpy.  :)

Bruce underground nuclear waste thing heading for a promotion


Looks like every community along the Grenville Front wants the 'permanent' nuclear waste repository.  It is my observation that people on terrible geology have a harder time than those on good geology.

Problem is that the design for the permanent vault would be exactly the same at the low-vault.  They only found one speck of intact rock and they are going for that.  That's the only option!

So, if every community is clamouring for the repository, why not use the one they are supposedly digging (one day).  Although they are in a mode of forced silence, this community action almost forces them to stick their heads out.

As we all know from other sources, I am eagerly awaiting the sinking of the shaft.  I am always wrong, but this is a hard experiment that will confirm what I say (or not).  Since this is the same fault that gave rise to the Oklahoma injection earthquake, I am eager to see what the pumping out of all that brine will do.  In the old days we just shoved that stuff into the lake, but now they are fussy :)   So we will see the double effect of pumping out in one spot, and injecting into another.  I can't wait!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Canada: Too much money tied up by old drunks


Really Into Merlot Ltd.

Did they go through all those barrels?  I'm not implying anything about those two, for sure!  Please don't sue me!  I just like the economics article, and it jibes with my experience.  I think that everything that is wrong with the above barrel company, mirrors the general problem in this country.  All the bright kids I know have gone to the US to suck off venture capital.  Now, this combines with the comments by Carney that the US has had it.  If so, then what of us?  :)   (Why am I doing economics anyway?)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Google+ still with no love

I've been on since the beginning, and I think it is becoming more mechanical.  The only traffic is from people pushing things out.  Some people get links from every cheap science article there is, and push them out.  Others push out rote political viewpoints.

I've done my very best pouring some love into it, but I think it's on parched ground.  The only thing was the  hangout, but with only 10 people, the good ones fill out quick, and I feel bad that I'm keeping others out.

Photographers push out their pictures, some of which are very nice, but still photos only go so far.  I don't know what I really wanted out of this, perhaps I wouldn't like anything (Hate Facebook!), but I don't see it moving into anything but a great place for pushing ads.

The blog satisfies me in the sense that it is a big soapbox where I can shout out and not care if anybody hears.  I don't care that nobody every interacts.  On g+ you expect people to interact, and nobody does.


These are the best things for this year in Toronto. Not much snow, but lots of refreeze. I find them great for mixed ground, like walking the dog in the valley, since they go well over pavement and dry spots. An upper band stops them from flinging off, and no spikes means you aren't picking up a forest!

When it snows a lot I use my snowshoes, but I have to carry them over the sidewalks, since they have aggressive crampons.


Earthquake in Western Quebec zone

This is a most wonderfully active seismic zone that has nothing to do with megathrusts or injection.  It is funny that whenever anybody has come up with some idea on why these places have earthquakes, they are always shot down by somebody mentioning some other zone.  Truth is that a lot of these zones have different mechanisms.

The wq zone is mostly driven by glacial damage to the rock.  If you plot glacial uplift, you will find the greatest shear stress changes (depending on gradients) are right here, as the last little bit pops up.  I've compared it to putting your thumb on a beach ball, and slowly releasing it.  You can imagine that the little dimple undergoes great stress changes, as it finally pops up.

There is also the complication of a hotspot track that zooms down along the NW-SE line straight to Boston.  This was responsible for all those rounded 'mounts', such as Mt. Royal.  I am sure these things broke up the rock enough to make it quite permeable.

Most people think that a lot of little earthquakes 'relieve' the stress, so as to prevent larger quakes.  Ah, would that be so!  No, Hopeful People, it follows a fractal pattern, so that the little earthquakes just set up bigger ones, within the fractal boundary (range of smallest to largest).  There have been large earthquakes in this zone.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Arkansas seismic zone grows in mysterious ways

The fun thing about this seismic mechanism was that there wasn't a speck of activity before they started injecting.  They injected too long and created a self-sustaining earthquake mechanism.

To review, we recall that there are only two types of earthquakes, from a rock mechanics point of view.  The standard one is that of a weak zone near tectonic plates, a la San Andreas.  The fault stands at constant strength, and stresses build up as the regional plates move.  The fault breaks, and new build-up starts.

The second mechanism (denied by all seismologists and geologists) is that of a highly stressed crust with faults.  Something happens which weakens the fault, and there is an earthquake.  Normally, that would end things as the stress is now gone, but this type of mechanism can grow and release more energy.

Now, the Precambrian crust under our feet is highly stressed, up to the limit of its general strength (when you include all the fractures).  Normally, we consider this to be 'stable' since nothing is happening to this rock to tip the balance, so to speak.  As well, this rock underwent huge stress changes during various glaciations, and had the stuffing knocked out of it.

But in a few spots, water is seeping in, and creating a huge drain.  The water weakens the fault, big earthquake, and there is room for more water.  The mechanism grows into something as big as New Madrid.  We can start a new New Madrid by injecting water until the mechanism is big enough to tap other water sources, and then to fly out of the nest.

So here in Arkansas, the fracturing has gone up the NE line, reached the artificial lake and started on a NW line.  As we know, NE is strike-slip, and NW is compression in this stress field.  Arkansas started along the NW line, and then broke out the NE fracture, in a conjugate set.  We shall now see whether this new NW line does the same.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dallas injection earthquake defies internet blackout

That's a good one, M3.2!  In a straight NE line.  I'm posting now, since the 'Soap Opera' seems to be all over now.  There were actually a lot of interesting earthquakes in the region today, but I have to get up to speed!  :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

No earthquakes for Internet Blackout Day

For tomorrow, there shall be no earthquakes, and therefore, I shall not be blogging or schlemming on g+.

As we know, the internet has become absolutely vital for earthquake studies.  Although all the seismometers cannot be cut off by the 'Murdoch's Law', the sharing of information is just as vital before and after the earthquake.  It is, of course, these 'non-newspaper' channels of communication that The Great American Hero - Murdoch, intends to cut off, just like India and China.

Naturally, I could not survive in the Post-Murdochian World.  I was terrified enough of Conrad Black!

In this future black world, all bloggers would be under a chill.  Just like Russian 'tax collectors' mysterious people, paid by cd-sellers, would closely scrutinize some web site, looking for a single violator, and then raise the Big Gun.

When I was getting scientific journals (I'm too poor now), I would publish extracts, perhaps pushing 'fair use'.  Not any more!  Nor will anyone else.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Don't be smug, an earthquake could hit anywhere


That's the thing about scientists, they just can't say no.  Could an earthquake hit Manitoba or Sask.?  Sure.  Are the odds greater than a big  hunk of incompetent Russian junk hitting you?  Will an Italian cruise ship run over your foot?  Who knows?

But honestly, I think that if you started injecting brine in Manitoba, you could get an earthquake.  In general, the Archean rock is older than our Precambrian, but just as highly stressed.  When we did the test nuclear waste repository, very high stresses were about a mile deep.

But the site showed that glaciation had done tremendous damage to the rock, and probably jiggled all the earthquakes out of it.  Still, it's possible......

Update - Wrong link.  Shows nobody reads this if they don't respond.  :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Another Texas injection earthquake 'Down the Line'

I'm calling this an injection earthquake because it is so perfectly down the megathrust line, and they inject everywhere in Texas.  As many of these other wells are closed, all the trucks go to the next one.

This article has some new information on pressures and volumes.  These really good 'mega-wells' can take millions of barrels of brine.  So this new area should get a few more earthquakes, and then stop for some mysterious reason.

Friday, January 13, 2012

W. Virginia now has an injection earthquake problem


The well was initially licensed to inject fluid at a rate of 2,100 pounds per square inch of surface pressure, but the DEP cut that to just 200 pounds per square inch in August 2010 after the quakes.

Wow, that's a huge reduction in pressure, but who knows about the volume?  My big thing is that they should regulate both pressure and volume.

That's the big blue square.  It's most likely the megathrust east of Toronto.  It's amazing they started to kick up a fuss with such little activity.  I usually expect a lot more earthquake activity before somebody notices.  Perhaps everybody is getting sensitive.  :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ohio still hot and heavy on injection earthquakes


Bevacqua said that the seismologist made his judgment from "an office in New York" and that no one has definitively proven the quakes are related to activity at the well. The company has commissioned a study and is depressurizing the well following the shutdown.

Oh, those nasty offices in New York!  If you get a map of all those other 'well behaved' injection sites in Ohio, you find they all follow the NE trend along the east side of Ohio.  This is the big Precambrian basin on the megathrust that we imaged under the east side of Lake Erie.  It is huge!

If you inject into that PC sandstone, you will get fairly low flow, and the regulations cover max pressure only.  It's only if you 'accidentally' overshoot the sandstone and inject into the fault that you get high flow.  It doesn't matter how much you inject, since only pressure is regulated (they were assuming intact sandstone).

At the very least, there should be no injection under towns with crappy brick buildings.

Currently the whole seismic map is quiet.  Did people stop injecting in the active zones?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hopes and dreams of the Niagara Pumped Storage

Previous Post

Here's something interesting that I read in the local company rag.  It's not mentioned anywhere in any news or web site.  They got the whole Canada-side pumped storage drained, and are doing extensive geotechnical investigation.  Why is it ignored by the media?  Why are they doing it?

This thing has a near-zero seismic capacity, which is ok if you don't believe in earthquakes.  Are they secretly working on it because of Niagara Tunnel Contention #1:

The tunnel is useless without bumping up the pumped storage.

I know from the history of this thing, and from many earlier investigations that it is amazing that it stands up as it is, let alone trying to increase the capacity.

For our tame media I suggest a few tidbits for their headlines -  "Nobody told us"  "Clutching at geotechnical straws"  "Can soupy walls hold more?"  :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

The endangered state seismologist


That doesn’t reassure Vanessa Pesec, president of the Network for Oil and Gas Accountability and Protection, an advocacy group that opposes drilling in shale.
“A part-time guy with $20,000 isn’t sufficient,” Pesec said.

Nice article, no comment.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dallas earthquakes get some news


Dime to a hole in a donut that there's some injection going on in Dallas.  It's right on the line, so that injection hole is a gusher (in reverse).  They should get a few million gallons in it before somebody notices. Then it's off to the next hole on the line!

(It's probably all the leftovers from Ohio).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Let's support Internet Blackout Day


SOPA (or Soap Opera) threatens to shut down the whole internet, just to keep Disney happy. The US Senate has been bought and paid for, so this legislation will go ahead, since it is impossible to take out an incumbent senator. :)

Here, in Canada though, we shall profit greatly by smuggling Internet juice across the border. :)


When the soap opera shuts down the internet, this shall trigger The Big One in California, which will crumble under the screams of all those Googlers out of a job.  Here in Canada, we shall start Canoogle and NoseBook, and all those survivors will be happy to work in Moose Jaw.  The New Prohibition will cause dark fibers to be lit by Internet Gansters, led by the notorious Al Ca-Schmidt.  Hipsters in SanFran will huddle in their ruined coffee shots, cradling their ipads, looking for a pirate wifi.  More affluent will flock to the hidden Speakeasies and have their wifi served up in style.

South Carolina earthquakes

I was looking up red circles today, and this was the only one.  It has interest in that it is totally uninteresting!    It has the simplicity of being a natural water drain that was the source of the big Charleston earthquake.  But I wonder about those lakes that look dammed, and may be deep.  Are they pumping up my happy little earthquake zone?  I hope not.  That was such a big earthquake that it must have shot its load.  Perhaps the border regions might go.  We'll know more if the quakes migrate to the lakes.  :)

Economic externalities - The 1986 Ashtabula, Ohio earthquake - M5


Perhaps the greatest concern--and controversy--was directed toward the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in northern Lake County. The plant was not operating at the time of the earthquake but was scheduled to load fuel rods on the next day. Officials at the Perry plant, which is located about 11 miles north of the epicenter, declared a precautionary site area emergency immediately after the earthquake but downgraded this to alert status within a short time. Accelerometers on site at the Perry plant recorded accelerations as high as 0.19 to 0.23 g; the plant is designed to withstand 0.15 g. These higher values, however, were at high frequencies and represented only momentary peak accelerations not capable of causing significant damages. Inspections of the Perry plant after the earthquake disclosed only minor cracks in concrete and small leaks in noncritical water pipes. Both conditions may have existed before the earthquake, according to newspaper reports.

This was a very important earthquake to me, since I was in my active period, and we were studying earthquakes for new nuclear sites.  I learned an incredible amount from this earthquake.  At the time I knew nothing about injection and the Precambrian megathrusts, but we now know that this earthquake was induced by injection.

Externalities are defined as the costs to Society from an economic activity that are not captured in the price of the goods.  Thus, some factory might pour tons of pollution out into the world, and people will buy the cheap toilet paper.  To be properly priced, the paper must include this cost, and maybe people would use less to wipe their nether regions.  :)

That earthquake cost the people (electricity buyers) untold millions of dollars, but the oil and gas industry could continue to sell their product cheaply.  More people bought natural gas, instead of expensive electricity.  :)  More injection wells followed.

The nuclear plant was closed unnecessarily for 6 months, and tons of reports were prepared.  I read all of them.  My only conclusion at the time was that we needed a better way to process in-plant seismic records, and I worked on that.  Subsequent installations were based on this knowledge.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Thinking to avoid injection earthquakes


Only, it costs about $10 million a pop.
A thorough seismic survey to assess tracts of rock below where oil and gas drilling fluid is disposed of could help detect quake prone areas.
But that would be far more costly than the traditional method of drilling a bore hole, which takes a limited sample of a rock formation but gives no hint of faults lines or plates.
The more expensive method will be a hard sell as long as irrefutable proof of the link between fracking and earthquakes remains elusive.
"If we knew what was in the earth we could perfectly mitigate the risk of earthquakes," said Austin Holland, seismologist at the Oklahoma Geological Survey. "That is something that we don't have enough science to establish yet."

We did that up in the Great Lakes, but the balkanized US geology scene doesn't acknowledge that.  They think that every state is different.  I can draw straight lines and say this is the place to drill if you want earthquakes.  But if they go off the lines, they can't get any significant volumes.  So, as these productive wells close, they will have to go to Texas or other high-volume wells, which are right on the fracture zones.  Might take a few years for the earthquakes, but they will come.  Right now, somebody has drilled a well, and said "Wow, does this take water!"