It was a normal day for the TV presenters at their table stating their reports for the public to hear. Suddenly, one of the reporters get interrupted as the TV studio began to shake. There they all stopped speaking, while exchanging worried glances. The shaking then becomes more violent, and all the reporters were forced to evacuate the set.
As the South Korean live TV team hastily discarded body microphones and abandoned their set, the seismic ripples of a 5.5 magnitude earthquake continued to shudder across Pohang. It was a powerful jolting. Other footage shows people running from buildings as walls collapse behind them. An entire city of half a million residents was left in shock. But this quake wasn’t a freak natural event. It was started by people.
That’s the conclusion of a report published in March by a team of experts who tried to find out what caused the event in Pohang on 15 November 2017. It left 135 people injured and 1,700 had to be temporarily relocated to emergency housing. Thousands of buildings were damaged, costing $75m ($60m). Because a geothermal drilling project had been operational nearby at the time, a big question needed to be answered: Whodunit? Humans or nature? To find out if industrial activity had set off the quake, the South Koreans called on a new breed of seismologist: the earthquake detectives.
If the earthquakes were started by people, how are we starting earthquakes ourselves?
With more drilling and fracking occurring around the world, human-induced or anthropogenic earthquakes have become an increasingly common concern. About 100,000 oil wells are now drilled every year and the use of geothermal energy, which sometimes involves injecting fluid into hot rock in order to create steam, could increase six-fold by 2050. By removing large quantities of fossil fuel or by flooding fractured rock with liquid, it’s possible to upset the balance of stresses below and set an earthquake in motion.
Find out more on this shocking revelation on BBC.
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