Earthquakes of Man

CoalmineEarthquakes are commonly thought to be caused by plate tectonics and volcanic activity, but there are many more reasons out there, some of them due to the influence of people on the Earth. When a human-caused quake happens in an area with no active faults the results are minimal, but if people agitate an already active fault the results could be devastating. 25% of Britain’s earthquakes have been initiated by humans, according to Christian Klose, a geohazards researcher at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. (Klose. Occurrence of Earthquakes 2013) Most of these were caused by the mining of coal and potash. These earthquakes have little to do with explosions and blasting, but simply the movement of massive amounts of mass, aided by machines of course. Australia’s only fatal earthquake, in 1989, is thought to have been caused by 200 years of coal mining.

Our thoughtful species has caused earthquakes in a number of other ways as well. Building dams can increase the weight of water in concentrated locations and injecting liquids into the earth’s crust, as the US Army did with waste in 1961, both have caused earthquakes. Presently many US states are undergoing legal processes determining how to address the issue of hydraulic fracturing. But is there even a debate? We have seen human caused earthquakes already, and is a few more years of fossil fuel dependence worth it? Let’s stick to sporting events to cause quakes.

About claytonrichenberg

I am a 3rd year architecture student at Illinois Institute of Technology
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