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Geology/New Madrid Fault

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Question
Do you think there will be a quake on the New Madrid Fault in the next 100 years, and do you think it might be triggered by the gas well fracking happening in north Louisiana and north Texas.

Thanks,

Claiborne

Answer
Hi Claiborne,
Two good questions. The first is the easiest to answer. No one knows when the next quake will be in New Madrid Fault Zone.  It is an intra-continental fault zone, and the mechanism behind those is not well understood. In fact, no fault mechanism is completely understood so no one can predict, with any certainty, when the next quake will occur in any fault zone.

Whether fracking will have anything to do with it is harder to decide.  It is probably certain that fracking in Louisiana or north Texas will have no affect on the New Madrid Fault system.  It's just too far away and there does not appear to be any connective structures between the areas.  A more pertinent question is, whether fracking causes earthquakes.  No one knows this answer either. It may be possible that some local, small ground movement may occur if the fracking is done in the wrong place. But I am not aware of any large scale fault being activated due to fracking processes. When I started with the Michigan Geological Survey in 1978 fracking was an accepted practice for many years and no fault was ever activated.  

Fracking is a safe procedure when practiced and engineered correctly. But that never means that it is 100% safe since absolutely no process is 100% safe. The Youngstown, Ohio incident comes to mind. Minor earthquakes were associated with fracking but that was because an unknown fault system was encountered.  Also, 177 other wells in the area did NOT cause earthquakes.

what should be taken away is that fracking, practiced with prudence, and care, and properly engineered is as safe as any form of drilling practice.

Hope this helps.
Bob

Geology

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C. Robert Reszka, Jr.

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I can answer any general geology question (rocks, minerals, stratigraphy, geomorphology etc.). My expertise is in the geology of the Michigan Basin, PreCambrian, Paleozoic and Recent. I can answer questions concerning mining and petroleum exploration and production and the laws concerning those activities. I can also answer questions concerning stratigraphy of the Michigan Basin. I will also answer questions about mineral and rock collecting in the Basin. I won`t be able to answer many specific questions on hydrology, geophysics or geochemistry. I may be able to answer very general questions in those venues.

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I have been working for the State of Michigan for 36 years as a Geologist and a Resource Analyst. I have experience with Subsurface Geology and Petroleum Geology, mining in Michigan, and Sand Dune Mining and Protection issues.

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Michigan Basin Geological Society

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Decade of North American Geology.
Bedrock Geology of Michigan

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BS Wayne State University

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