a safe earthquake

Efforts to stem global warming by pumping emissions of carbon dioxide deep into the Earth’s crust could trigger widespread earthquakes, a Stanford geophysicist warned.

Although those quakes would not be particularly destructive, they would be widely felt and disruptive – and it would also cost billions of dollars to create thousands of disposal sites for the greenhouse gas, said Mark Zoback, one of the country’s leading seismic experts.

Injecting carbon dioxide into thousands of sites in mid-America, he said, would increase the pressure along those faults and inevitably push many into abrupt failure. The result would be quakes with magnitudes of up to 4, he said.

Another serious problem with the sequestration proposals is that many injection wells would be drilled deep into rock and sand formations that are not impermeable, raising the possibility that much if not all of the carbon dioxide could escape into the atmosphere and start the greenhouse problem once again, Zoback said.

Heat Is Online – originally The San Francisco Chronicle 14 Dec 2010