Carbon sinking might cause earthquakes

Storing carbon dioxide in underground reservoirs – carbon sinks, as they are commonly referred to – might help fighting climate changes and global warming, as many claim, but it might as well trigger  earthquakes, a new study suggests.

Scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California and the Côte d’Azur Observatory in France simulated what would happen if carbon dioxide entered an underground reservoir with a common kind of fault nearby. Depending on how and when the injection was done, an earthquake of up to magnitude 4.5 could occur, the team reports in a paper to appear in Geophysical Research Letters.

Carbon sinking is supported by many in the radical environmentalist front as a way to counter accumulation of this gas in the atmosphere and help fight the increase in the planet’s temperatures, with all undesirable consequences. The tool does not meet everybody’s favor, though: several organizations, environmentalists and scientists, indeed, claim there is no scientific evidence that storing Co2 in underground reservoirs would be any help against climate changes and that the tool would actually have a cost a lot higher than its expected benefits.

The joint USA-France study adds another possible problem, with sinking carbon dioxide underground. One exploration, geothermal and other companies are interested in the most. They want to understand, indeed, the conditions under which injections of CO2 underground can cause problems, or even threats, to mining, or any their form of exploitation of the planet underground. Included, of course, the occurrence of earthquakes. The study findings seem to support their doubts.


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