I woke up this morning having had a wild dream last night. The dream involved end of the world type scenarios and lots of crime. I assumed it was the result of playing Batman: Arkham Asylum just before bed time. That probably is still accurate, but what I remember most vividly about the dream was a huge explosion. It even slightly aroused me from my deep slumber for a moment. Alas, I sloughed off the “scare” and went back to sleep. This morning, my wife told me about a real “boom” that happened around midnight. Facebook and Twitter lit up with people wondering what it was. It caused shaking that was felt across three counties in southern Indiana. The USGS says there was no earthquake. Sonic booms don’t shake the Earth like that. So this morning, I set out to find out what may have caused it.
First, I searched “unexplained booms” on Google. I was amazed to find how many articles turned up, especially in the past 12 months, detailing the exact phenomenon that my ultra-concerned wife described to me in vivid detail. From Los Angeles, to Portland, Oregon, across to Iowa through Kentucky and into New York and South Carolina on the East coast, reports of huge booms were everywhere, and all of them were unexplained. In fact, the USGS made it a point in every case to say that there was zero seismic activity during these events despite citizen claims of ground shaking.
I know enough about seismology to know that shaking ground will register on a seismograph; it will just look differently than an earthquake. I was fortunate enough to find someone to confirm what I felt I already knew. James Spann, chief meteorologist for the ABC affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama posted his story on March 6, 2012. He noted that the “USGS reports no earthquakes,” but that Steve Jones at AlabamaQuake.com found something that the USGS apparently felt was not worth noting.
“Actually, I see two *sets* of impulses in the filtered / magnified seismogram…there looks to be 7 or 8 discrete pulses in each group, starting at approximately 4:29:35 pm CST and then again at about 4:29:55 pm CST, with each group lasting several seconds.
Does this fit with the “ground truth” reports of repeated rumblings that you have been getting from this afternoon? (Yes, it does)
The impulses look “non-seismic” and have the appearance of some sort of man-made explosions. Beyond that, I just don’t know…”
So, Steve Jones was able to look at a seismogram and notice spikes of impulse during the precise time of the reported booms, but the USGS missed it? Really? This seems to directly contradict the official story presented by the government. Don’t worry, I’m not about to go all Alex Jones on you, but I do have to wonder why the USGS doesn't want to provide the simple truth that some movement is registering. I mean, we already know that it happened, we felt and heard it. Why pretend like it didn't happen? Could it be that having a government agency that acknowledges it might put citizen “investigators” onto the trail of the answers to the question – what caused it?
I decided that I wanted to play some more with the Google. Admittedly, the following image is not the greatest, but it does what I need on short time with no software.
This map shows the location of shale plays in the lower 48 states. A play, according to those in the oil and gas industry, is “a geographic area which has been targeted for exploration due to favorable geoseismic survey results.” The lightning bolts are the locations of 12 unexplained booms reported by citizens, all of which were left unexplained and accompanied by tremor-like action in the Earth. Nearly all of them are located directly on top of a known shale play. None of the states holding the “enigmatic” 4 booms on the map have disclosure laws, so drillers don’t have to notify you if they decide to drill. Might there be more deposits in the Northwest and Northeast that haven’t been disclosed as yet?
I’d heard of fracking and even had the most basic understanding of what it entails. That is still the case, and I’ll be waxing poetic upon the shoulders of other people much more invested than I, but I have decided one thing – fracking is bad. It seems that most Americans have never even heard of it. So what is it? It is the injection chemicals into cracks and fissures in the shale in the Earth. These injections build pressure, widening the fissures, and opening a trail for the gas to escape for collection. I’m confident, after my research this morning, that fracking is the source of the boom that my wife and many others heard and felt last night. My questions now have turned to – what are the consequences of this new drilling method?
Dangersoffracking.com offers users a quick, interactive resource to learn the basics of fracking. According to the site:
There have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas of gas drilling as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to ingested contaminated water. During this process, methane gas and toxic chemicals leach out from the system and contaminate nearby groundwater. Methane concentrations are 17x higher in drinking-water wells near fracturing sites than in normal wells. Only 30-50% of the fracturing fluid is recovered, the rest of the toxic fluid is left in the ground and is not biodegradable. Up to 600 chemicals are used in fracking fluid, including known carcinogens and toxins such as lead, uranium, mercury, ethylene glycol, radium, methanol, hydrochloric acid, and formaldehyde.
The math, according to Dangers of Fracking:
500,000 active gas wells in the U.S. X 8 million gallons of water per fracking X 18
Putting aside the fact that the practice of unregulated fracking is dangerous enough to our well-being, via our water supply and the environment, what can we say about the physical concerns resulting from playing “god” with the natural composition of the Earth? Look, we all know that mining and drilling and other means of gathering natural resources takes a tremendous toll on the Earth. But as we read earlier, most Americans don’t even know what fracking is.
It seems to me that injecting billions of gallons of fluids into the Earth and forcing open fissures is not a good idea. What if the pockets evacuated by the exiting gas were dependent upon the gas for stability? Might we see sinkholes? Folks in Louisiana think so. What about Ohio, where fracking is largely credited with providing the economic boost needed to help Obama win his second term? This article says a 400 yard sinkhole near Dover, Ohio was the result of dredging. But then again, that is the official story isn't it? Dover just happens to fall right smack in the middle of the largest shale play in America. What about the several large sinkholes in Brooklyn? Oh yeah, NYC is also right in the middle of that same shale play.
Has anyone considered what these activities might mean for large seismic fault lines such as the San Andreas and the New Madrid faults? I mean, man-made tremors can’t be good right? It seems like we might as well run a gas line under Mt. Saint Helens. Retrofit the crater with some flamethrowers and we can make a huge ass eruption! Voila! Who needs God, right? Thankfully, Bloomberg covered this for us in April. Was anyone listening? I wasn’t. But the USGS, yep those guys that won’t tell you why there was a huge boom in your neighborhood, says that “'Our scientists cite a series of examples for which an uptick in seismic activity is observed in areas where the disposal of wastewater through deep-well injection increased significantly,' David, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, said in a blog post yesterday, describing research by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey.”
So it seems that fracking is largely unmonitored and benefits from largely unenforced regulation. President Obama insists that he is going to make fracking safer. However, he is not going to slow it down. So what are we going to do about it? Well, I’m going to become self-sufficient…at least as much as possible. My wind turbine will be up by spring. My solar panels will be operational by autumn. My water filtration will be cleaning by winter. I suggest you should start thinking about it too, before all hell breaks loose. What a fracking ride that will be!