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BY GEORGE: Humans Can Rock The Earth

Earthquakes seem like such a massive and potentially destructive force, you would think us little humans would hardly have any influence on whether the globe rumbles or not.  But, the fact is, humans do cause some quakes.  Actually, sometimes the “tremors” can be substantial and damaging.

In 1967 a disastrous quake that was associated with the Koyna dam in India.  The dam was responsible for realigning the earths near surface and sub-surface dynamic, and it was clear that such stresses induced by such a massive human engineering project created a volatile and unstable ground.

To say the least, it’s difficult, and sometimes impossible, to say for sure whether humans are responsible.  There are literally hundreds of tremors daily around the globe, and the crusts that make up our surface and below are always shifting at all levels of the crust.

Even a small stress can cause a fault to fail according to Dr. Leonardo Seeber, Lamont research professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.  In fact, he says human induced quakes are quite common than once perceived.

One way to induce a quake is by changing the load on the crust, typically with artificial lakes, quarries, and oil fields, which decrease the load.

Also, and this is gaining much attention lately due to the renewed push to extract natural gas from underground sources in a process called “hydrofracking.”  This process involves using high volume water, salt and chemicals to release natural gas from dense rock.  There’s a lot of debate about the potential environmental harm done, and some of it has become headline news, there’s no firm evidence that the process itself is immediately harmful.  However, there is a lot of potential harm from some of the equipment, pipes, transport systems, etc.  Let’s not even begin a political conversation, please.

What we do know is this.  Humans cause earthquakes.  Sometimes humans cause big earthquakes.

By: George Elliott


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