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Water Plant Causes Earthquakes in Colorado

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Water Plant Causes Earthquakes in Colorado

Postby JTWood » Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:33 am

Here's another reason for acsguitar to hate living in Colorado:

CNN.com wrote:GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado (AP) -- A federal facility that pumps salty water 14,000 feet into the Earth's crust probably is associated with a magnitude 3.9 earthquake that struck the Utah-Colorado border this month, an official said.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation facility removes salt from the Dolores River, then pumps 230 gallons of brine per minute into deep wells in Utah's Paradox Valley Area.

The process is intended to decrease the salt content of the Colorado River downstream, but scientists say it also lubricates faults.

The facility has caused thousands of earthquakes in the area since 1991, but most have been too small for people to feel. The 3.9 quake, which struck November 6, was felt in Grand Junction, some 60 miles away. No damage was reported.

"We have a seismic network set up for measuring and recording any events associated with the injection process, and it appears this earthquake was one probably associated with that process," said Andy Nichols, manager of the federal facility. "Every once in a while there's a large event felt at the surface, and this was one of those events."

The last large earthquake occurred in May 2000 and registered 4.3 on the Richter scale. An earthquake of magnitude 6.0 or greater are generally destructive.

That event, combined with two significant tremors in 1999, led government officials to reduce the amount of brine injected by a third.
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Postby Pogotheostrich » Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:39 am

Maybe I'm way off here but does it seem to be a good thing. The brine lubricates the faults and instead of the pressure building until there is a huge earthquake you get many smaller ones. :-?
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Postby acsguitar » Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:41 am

Hmmm...interesting point....by the Way I love Colorado so im not sure about the Hate colorado thing
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Postby JTWood » Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:44 am

Pogotheostrich wrote:Maybe I'm way off here but does it seem to be a good thing. The brine lubricates the faults and instead of the pressure building until there is a huge earthquake you get many smaller ones. :-?

No, no. I agree. Here in the Midwest, there is a lot of talk about the New Madrid fault, which is famed to have produced a 9.0 (or greater) earthquake so strong that it reversed the Mississippi and rang church bells as far away as Philly (I'm sure you know this, Pogo).

Click here for a quicky review of the fault.

One of the big problems, they say, is that built up tension results in bigger earthquakes. The fact that New Madrid was due for a quake over two decades ago is source for a bit of angst here in the Midwest because the longer we go without one, the worse it will be when it finally happens.
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Postby Pogotheostrich » Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:55 am

Yep, anyone who grew up around STL know about the New Madrid fault. I remember that experts predicted a huge earthquake to happen in 1986 and the school had us practicing getting under our desks. Chances are when it does finally happen it is going to be a big one.
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Postby Madison » Mon Nov 15, 2004 12:07 pm

I'd much rather have a few small ones, rather than a huge one.

Glad I'm in Texas. :-D
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Postby kentx12 » Mon Nov 15, 2004 3:23 pm

Madison wrote:I'd much rather have a few small ones, rather than a huge one.


That makes sense to me..
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Postby acsguitar » Mon Nov 15, 2004 4:00 pm

Madison wrote:I'd much rather have a few small ones, rather than a huge one.

Glad I'm in Texas. :-D


Ah Texas now I understand alot more about you :-D
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Postby LBJackal » Mon Nov 15, 2004 4:53 pm

Maybe this will lead other places to lubricate the fault lines :-?

Some places in California and Japan seem like ticking time bombs - better to have smaller predicatable quakes than big unexpected ones.
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Postby Pogotheostrich » Mon Nov 15, 2004 5:03 pm

LBJackal wrote:Maybe this will lead other places to lubricate the fault lines :-?

Some places in California and Japan seem like ticking time bombs - better to have smaller predicatable quakes than big unexpected ones.
I'm not sure about Japan but Cali is a different kind of fault line, pulling away instead of pushing together. I don't see how lubricating that fault would help.
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