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stoat_toad t1_jdig6gt wrote

Oil sands companies: “I didn’t do it”

Alberta Energy Regulator: “good enough for us”.


ThePopesicle t1_jdiozze wrote

Such is life in a petrostate.

Err…petroprovince. Excuse me.


bremergorst t1_jdkm7f3 wrote

No, no, pardon me.


Hand-Picked-Anus t1_jdkp65p wrote

Just stopping by to say sorry, in case I did something wrong in advance. Have a good one, eh?


bremergorst t1_jdkt9nl wrote

You wanna stop by after work for some poutine and Schlitz with the missus?


TurningTwo t1_jdiws9z wrote

They did that at Rocky Mountain Arsenal back in the 1960’s. Injected all manner of hazardous waste into the deep subsurface, resulting in a series of damaging earthquakes in the Denver area.


pornthrowaway1421 t1_jdkjx6c wrote

Hell in DFW Texas area we had a fracking boom for natural gas about 10 years ago and used to get mini quakes all the way to Oklahoma… it was speculated as the cause but never proven but I can tell you since they stopped drilling new ones it’s stopped


cdrchandler t1_jdkmsuu wrote

Same in South Texas with the Eagle Ford shale fracking over the last decade.


kilranian t1_jdmiau3 wrote

They occurred in Oklahoma to a much greater degree, and the Oklahoma Geological Survey (the state level USGS) published information demonstrating it was the fault of fracking.

If course, that was after oil companies (specifically Harold Hamm) and the University of Oklahoman's President, David Boren, attempted to stop them from publishing.

A quick source for the political interference:


Otherwise-Out t1_jdn8jok wrote

I remember this! I was still rather young and didn't have a good idea of what was going on.

During one of em my parents argued about whether it was an earthquake or a tornado.

Good times


pornthrowaway1421 t1_jdnkql1 wrote

I still live here(working pump about 50yards from my front yard) but man did they drill so many, I remember the country side filled with old school well towers like it was wild west


Shambhala87 t1_jdlrjmq wrote

Michigan had a couple earthquakes pretty close together back around 2012. I was led to believe it was because of fracking pumping water deep underground. Having lived there my whole life, and no one from there ever experiencing one prior, this was the most probable cause.


1XRobot t1_jdirklj wrote

For anybody interested in induced seismicity, this review paper is really good: Global review of human-induced earthquakes


open_door_policy t1_jdizw1w wrote

It's so flippin' cool to me that we're learning how to make earthquakes.

Do you know if there are any serious plans yet to start deliberately taking preventive measures to head off the Big Ones that we know are inevitable at certain fault lines?


GeoGeoGeoGeo OP t1_jdjgup0 wrote

The following is provided from the USGS:

>FICTION: You can prevent large earthquakes by making lots of small ones, or by “lubricating” the fault with water.

>Seismologists have observed that for every magnitude 6 earthquake there are about 10 of magnitude 5, 100 of magnitude 4, 1,000 of magnitude 3, and so forth as the events get smaller and smaller. This sounds like a lot of small earthquakes, but there are never enough small ones to eliminate the occasional large event. It would take 32 magnitude 5's, 1000 magnitude 4's, OR 32,000 magnitude 3's to equal the energy of one magnitude 6 event. So, even though we always record many more small events than large ones, there are far too few to eliminate the need for the occasional large earthquake.

>As for “lubricating” faults with water or some other substance, if anything, this would have the opposite effect. Injecting high-pressure fluids deep into the ground is known to be able to trigger earthquakes—to cause them to occur sooner than would have been the case without the injection. This would be a dangerous pursuit in any populated area, as one might trigger a damaging earthquake.


l4mbch0ps t1_jdl2qrr wrote

The last paragraph is sort of missing the mark though - the whole idea would be about releasing the quake earlier so its smaller than the future natural quake.

Not saying that the practice would work, but that paragraph doesn't represent the issue well, imo.


LadyAstronaut t1_jdlakru wrote

But would the lubricant make it worse thus counter acting the benefit of triggering the quake sooner?


RekindlingChemist t1_jdm6n39 wrote

first paragraph is missing the mark too, IMO. think about thousands of pressure cookers exploding at various pressures. it's not that "it's never enough explosions to prevent big one", it's more "there's always some strong enough cooker to blow at much bigger pressure". And lubricating should work much like safety valve, lowering pressure on which blowing occurs at every single cooker.


mortaneous t1_jdmgmhv wrote

The problem is also that you can't necessarily control the magnitude of your induced earthquake. There would always be a chance that trying to trigger a bunch of M4's would accidentally get you an unexpected M5 or M6, and it's likely that the chance is unacceptably high given the number of quakes you have to induce to release enough energy for preventing the bigger ones.


Manisbutaworm t1_jdlm5gv wrote

But if we can make earthquakes happen sooner we can choose a better moment of our choice. So we can prevent one ruining your weekend.


Just_wanna_talk t1_jdk34f8 wrote

Could you imagine being the guy who fucks up a calculation and accidentally cause a magnitude 7+ quake near a populated city when you were supposed to be just mitigating the risk?


Caffeine_Monster t1_jdki86n wrote

I stull suspect contamination to groundwater is going to be the larger issue in the long run.

Yes, If the wells are dug correctly and don't get damaged, there is a low chance of contamination. The problem is that the wells don't always get dug correctly, and even then damage is still possible.


International_Jello t1_jdkbgck wrote

I wonder if it will ever be used as a weapon


Hagenaar t1_jdkhfl8 wrote

"Mayor, there's a crew of workmen and a large amount of heavy equipment working just outside city limits."
"Why are you telling me this? Can't you see I'm working on the budget?"
"I think they may be trying to trigger an earthquake!"
"How long have they been there?"
"Couple of months now."
"Oh my god!"


Flimsy_Tooth_4443 t1_jdlkjs5 wrote

Are you suggesting we spend money to save lives and prevent catastrophe?

Don't be ridiculous. It will be used to bring "peace" to any countries which don't comply with US hegemony having thr audacity to have valuable materials on their land.


__Synix__ t1_jdi5clf wrote

Fracking. Should definitely compensate those who have sustained damage due to the earthquake


garlicroastedpotato t1_jdiarej wrote

This isn't fracking. This is the Canadian oilsands.

It's almost worse than fracking. They inject far more fluid into the ground.


[deleted] t1_jdidy8s wrote



garlicroastedpotato t1_jdifjt2 wrote

There's palm trees and a tiki bar. It's why all the rig pigs love both it and Mexico.


Reaches_out t1_jdjd3ug wrote

Same amount of cocaine, but way more meth


bremergorst t1_jdkmj37 wrote

I want just one oilfield where instead of uppers it’s just ketamine


GANTRITHORE t1_jdjn8t6 wrote

There are some large areas with sand and little bits of tar in them. It's a stark contrast to the normally forested area.


cmde44 t1_jdii4vg wrote

Yeah, that's scary; the amount of fluid displaced from sand vs. fractured rock. It's incredible they can keep it stable at all.


chaseinger t1_jdjfy8l wrote

> It's incredible they can keep it stable at all.

can they though? it's not the first time this happened if i'm not mistaken.


ChrisFromIT t1_jdim6j1 wrote

With the oilsands, they aren't injecting fluid into the ground.

The sand/dirt containing the oil is dug out, then goes through a process of extracting the oil from the sand/dirt that involves the usage of water.


garlicroastedpotato t1_jdio1xp wrote

You're wrong. I can see what you're saying, but you're wrong on this. They mine the bitumen in a mine then bring it to a facility where it's processed and one of the end products is slurry wastewater. Since the waste water is a byproduct of bitumen it's technically not pollution to put it from where you got it. This stuff is more toxic than the slurry ponds and more toxic than the tailings ponds.

It's called deepwell disposal and its a cost effective means of getting rid of waste water (that otherwise has no way of getting rid of it). It's not fracking (fracking loosens up material making them easier to extract), it's probably worse.


Tirannie t1_jdj0is0 wrote

That kind of strip mining is only done on shallow sites. Since most of Alberta’s deposits are deep well, they use thermal in-situ extraction methods (usually either SAG-D or CSS).

Most oil sands sites in Alberta use SAG-D (steam-assisted gravity drainage). They drill two wells on the site, one slightly higher than the other, then inject high-pressure steam into the site to decrease the viscosity of the bitumen, which then gets pushed up the higher well. The bitumen gets processed after that (because we can’t use oil with sand in it), which creates a lot of waste water.

What this article is talking about it the disposal of the waste water after, which is injected into deep well sites. Though I’d be interested to see if there’s more research into “induced seismicity” from the extraction process as well.


ChrisFromIT t1_jdipk43 wrote

>You're wrong.

Nope. While you are right that there is a thing called deepwell disposal, it happens in other parts of the oil and gas industry. The byproduct of the oil sands isn't disposed of in deepwell disposals. At least when it comes to the surface mines.

When it comes to them having to extract the oil from the ground, yes, deepwell disposal is done. Because the well is already there for them to use.


Un0Du0 t1_jdjwxny wrote

In this case the article actually says:

> "This event was caused by wastewater disposal,"

So yes, this was a result from deepwell disposal in the oilsands.


ChrisFromIT t1_jdk0dnb wrote

The issue is that there is an misunderstanding of what is happening and location.

Based on u/garlicroastedpotato first comment of this

>This isn't fracking. This is the Canadian oilsands.

He is very likely referring to the open pit mining/surface mines of the oilsands. It is pretty much what everyone refers to when they say the oil sands.

The article is talking about the oil sands formation. It is actually fairly large, it goes so far south that the oil fields in Montana and North Dakota are part of that oil sands formation. To get access to the oil in that formation, if you are not doing open pit mining you are pretty much doing drilling which is part of the process of fracking. On top of that Fracking and Steam-assisted gravity drainage is very similar in nature.

And considering u/garlicroastedpotato said it isn't fracking in his comments, he has to be referring to the open pit mining commonly referred to as the Canadian oilsands.

And if you look at the article, the earthquake is around the the Peace River oil sands deposit. Very far away from the open pit mines.

Ergo, u/garlicroastedpotato is both right and wrong. He is right in what is happening, but wrong terms and locations. And because he used the wrong terms and location, he is overall wrong.


lexxi_cox t1_jdj0hrj wrote

When the US government dumped waste from the production of nerve gas into the ground near Denver, it was the first time that humans were known to have caused an earthquake of this kind. One day in the 1980s, my mother casually brought up the subject as if it weren't a big deal. Rocky Mountain Arsenal is now a wildlife refuge on the property.


a_common_spring t1_jdjz65g wrote

That's so wild that human activity can cause EARTHQUAKES. do you know how big the earth's crust is? It's hella large.


CatatonicMan t1_jdkrzb0 wrote

Less wild than you're probably imagining.

It's more akin to lubrication, really. The potential energy for the quake was already built up; the injected liquid just gets things moving.

It's roughly analogous to a match starting a forest fire or a yell causing an avalanche.


OneForAllOfHumanity t1_jdpl62z wrote

Human activity can cause climate change too. It doesn't take much to trigger something bigger.


pyrolizard11 t1_jdlarg9 wrote

Makes perfect sense to me. If ancient man could split mountains with nothing but hammer and chisel, why shouldn't we be able to shake the earth with all our modern understanding and technology?


surge208 t1_jdjny6x wrote

Yo, chatgpt4, how do we fix this? Surely it's not as simple as restraining uncontrollable greed.


veezy81 t1_jdl7w7n wrote

It's sad that most things ARE this simple, yet they'll never be done.


Megaman_exe_ t1_jdk6tk9 wrote

So what happens to those people who live in the area? Their homes are not built to withstand earthquakes

Edit: actually I don't know if they are or not. Alberta doesn't seem to get large earthquakes frequently.


SpaShadow t1_jdko3zg wrote

It didn't really damage anything, area is mostly forest. Other than just confusion that we felt and earthquake. It never happens here so 90% people immediately knew it was fault of the oilfield somehow.


clumsy_poet t1_jdkpqsm wrote

Cracks got worse in my apartment building. Can we send the repair bills to any of these companies?


Musicferret t1_jdld9yb wrote

“Why did Trudeau do this?” - PP


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squeegee_boy t1_jdkefsu wrote

Wasn’t this part of the plot of “A View to a Kill?”


SkirtLoader t1_jdkkii8 wrote

Now for the mineralization of the ground water


MortDorfman t1_jdlipx2 wrote

Is alberta on the old ass bedrock too? I havent experienced an eatthquake in ontario in like over 20 years.


MACCRACKIN t1_jdku4ld wrote

Yes Sir,, Pump Down Peanut Butter, and coat all those jagged edged fractures that held for a thousands of years, will all of a sudden slip under billions of tons of constant pressure.

Good luck there,, pretty sure many more are coming. I wouldn't be surprised if 100 mini quakes occurs with in a couple years.



xtrsports t1_jdjll32 wrote

Canada is nice to everyone except the environment.


GeoGeoGeoGeo OP t1_jdjo99j wrote

To be fair, Canada probably has one of, if not thee worlds most stringent set environmental laws and regulations. Of course this doesn't mean they can't be improved on but it certainly puts the rest of the world into perspective if you think Canada is lacking in that department.


theaveragebearstake t1_jdjs3sj wrote

Interesting how lead author doesn't have a professional geologist accreditation. Is that normal for someone whilin the sysmic field?


GeoGeoGeoGeo OP t1_jdk0cvo wrote

Ryan Schultz is an academic researcher, it's not uncommon for those dedicated to academia to forgo professional accreditation with their respective province


2019-2022 Ph.D. in Seismology, Stanford University, USA

2010-2012 M.Sc. in Geophysics, University of Alberta, Canada

2007-2009 B.Sc. in Physics with honours, University of Alberta, Canada

2003-2007 B.Sc. in Chemistry with specialization, University of Alberta, Canada


theaveragebearstake t1_jdk14oh wrote

If he's a researcher why is he working as a teaching assistant?


GeoGeoGeoGeo OP t1_jdk3edx wrote

He's not. He was a teaching assistant during his time at university and is currently with the Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at ETH Zurich (a federal agency).

Your questions seem quite out of place here and with little to no bearing with regard to the information presented within the article.


theaveragebearstake t1_jdkhpkp wrote

Just questioning my source, which I always do especailly to researchers who overly self quote. The source of the information always has bearing regarding information being presented.


GeoGeoGeoGeo OP t1_jdkucq3 wrote

That's literally a logical fallacy. You're supposed to critique the argument not the source of the argument because no matter the source the argument could be sound.


smills30 t1_jdkouo0 wrote

Any jobs going in the oil industry? Are you hiring?


kilranian t1_jdmiulx wrote

"Just Asking Questions" aka "JAQ'ing off" is a common bad-faith argument used by those lying about their intent.


brindles t1_jdkedon wrote

Not many seismologists get geologist accreditation because it's not really in the same field, and because certified geologists often deal more with industry/resources than research. Dr. Schultz has specialized in induced seismicity for ages, and has been a part of loads of projects related to the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin.