Texas has always been a battleground between skeptics and environmentalists, but a developing trend of seismic activity has also turned it into a promising research laboratory for scientists and seismologists.
Volcano Discovery, a group of scientists dedicated towards the global study of volcanoes and earthquakes alike published the following figures which the NCPA has reformatted without tampering or omissions of data:
Important disclaimers include:
- the final apparent drop in seismic activity, which may simply be due to the fact that we are only halfway into January
- an omission of point for November in 2013, for which there was no data
- However, the most important fact uncovered, is that though this chart measured the frequency of the earthquakes, further analysis of data collection methods, times and earthquake locations has led us to believe that there is significant double-counting occurring in this data… Meaning that two or three different cities may have noted the same tremor, yet the data was recorded as multiple bouts of seismic activity.
Regardless of this skew, and the likelihood for overstatement in this data, it is difficult to refute the clear trend in this chart. Indeed, the Dallas Morning News states,
There is evidence that some central and eastern North America earthquakes have been triggered or caused by human activities that have altered the stress conditions in earth’s crust sufficiently to induce faulting.
According to the Dallas Morning News, these activities include what you would expect,
… impoundment of water behind dams, injection of fluid into the earth’s crust, extraction of fluid or gas, and removal of rock in mining or quarrying operations…
But even if these tremors are truly increasing in frequency due to fracking and fuel extraction, is it really a threat to Texas’ lives and infrastructure? There is no recent record of significant damage due to tremors in Oklahoma or Texas, what’s more many of these tremors are occurring in areas where the population density can be as low as five people per square mile… denoting a very rural or sparse suburban setting.
Six months of data from Volcano Discovery’s records were randomly selected and analyzed for changes in magnitude and depth of Texas earthquakes:
Depth has decreased and magnitude has increased, however in assessing these results, we always must prioritize one of the most basic rules of statistics: Correlation is not causation. What’s more, a larger sample of months can give more definitive results. There is still much research to be done on the origin of these earthquakes, and not enough risk to human life and private/public capital given what we know, at least not enough to make drastic decisions set forth by some environmental groups.