There has been a rising concern for safety for the people of Alberta due to increased seismic activity in the area. The most prominent occurrences were that of March 4 and March 18, which were the strongest of the bunch. The damages caused included structural damage to certain buildings and a power outage which lasted for a few hours.
Since then it was determined that the cause for these earthquakes was man-made and that it is due to fracking is done in the area.
A report was made by the Alberta Energy Regulator which was able to truly determine the cause of these earthquakes. They were able to find multiple clusters that caused similar seismic activity in the area.
AER managed to investigate and report in their Alberta Geological Survey that the seismic activity caused in the area of Red Deer on March 4 and March 18 in 2019 was indeed the cause of man-made hydraulic fracturing.
Fracking is actually the process of injecting liquid in the ground in order to loosen rock formations and free up hydrocarbon. This process is mainly used to get oil out of the ground.
But it seems that this time the process had a much more devastating effect than anyone had expected. Initial tremors were felt in Duvernay Formation are near Fox Creek. But additionally and much stronger tremors were felt all the way to Red Deer which is situated around 4-10 km away from the area where the injection was done.
The 4.18-magnitude quake, that occurred on March 4, happened near the area where Vesta Energy has been performing their fracking. AER immediately prompted them to suspend further work.
Is there are Reason to be Concern?
The quake that occurred in Red Deer caused some minimal structural damage. A more concerning fault was the power outage that affected 4,600 people. Luckily the problem was dealt with and power was restored in as little as 90 minutes.
Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre noted that there is still no need to be alarmed. They are aware of the cause of the problem but they are also very confident in the help that Alberta Energy Regulator is able to provide. The idea is still to strike a balance in attaining in establishing sustainable economic growth and at the same time being able to protect the citizens.
Vesta has added more equipment necessary to monitor any seismic activity that may occur in the area. AER and AGS have installed more than 50 monitoring systems across the province so they are able to accurately measure any possible future occurrences.
The process is continually refined so advanced safety is achieved.