Oil

Fracking and energy exploration connected to earthquakes, say studies

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 11, 2013   View Article

The rivers of water pumped into and out of the ground during the production of natural gas, oil and geothermal energy are causing the Earth to shake more frequently in areas where these industrial activities are soaring, according to a series of studies published today.

While the gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) causes some small quakes, it’s the disposal of wastewater following that process — and many others relating to energy production — that lead to the largest tremors.

“Fortunately, there have been no deaths and damage has been limited to date, but it is obviously of concern to people as we think about the future of the energy economy,” William Ellsworth, a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., told NBC News.

Mystery ‘oil sheen’ grows near site of BP Gulf disaster, says researcher

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 31, 2013   View Article

A persistent, mysterious “oil sheen” in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster grew to more than seven-miles long and one-mile wide during a recent stretch of calm seas, based on aerial observations made by a former NASA physicist turned environmental activist.

“We had maybe three or four days (of calm weather) and that’s all it took for the stuff to build up considerably,” Bonny Schumaker, the physicist who now runs the non-profit On Winds of Care, which makes regular flights over regions of the Gulf affected by the 2010 oil spill.

Graphene-coated sensors to strike oil?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 20, 2011   View Article

Tiny sensors coated with the wonder-material graphene and powered by flowing water could expedite the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves, according to university researchers supported by the energy industry.

The idea is to plop the sensors into the water injected down exploration wells where they can then move sideways through cracks and crevices in the Earth in search of hydrocarbons. The electricity generated by the flow of water would allow the sensors to relay their findings to the surface.

Five Years After Katrina, Big Alien Rodents Return

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 26, 2010   View Article

Five years after Hurricane Katrina whacked down the population of the invasive, wetland-munching rodents in Louisiana, nutria have bounced back.

At the same time, some coastal marshes are rebounding too, because of a boom in Louisiana’s nutria trappers.

Photos: Huge Containment “Domes” for Gulf Oil Spill

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 4, 2010   View Article

Welders in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, scurry on Monday to finish a 93-ton, four-story-tall oil-containment “dome.” The giant box is the key component of one of three “subsea oil recovery systems” intended to be lowered onto three seafloor leaks spilling an estimated 210,000 gallons (795,000 liters) of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico.

7 ways microbes may solve our energy woes

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: December 2, 2009   View Article

Microscopic organisms — archaea, bacteria and fungi — have the potential to reshape the world’s power supply. Microbes could provide a vast energy resource that is as efficient and portable as coal, oil and natural gas, said Bruce Rittmann, director of the Center for Environmental Biotechnology at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute.

Some microbial processes, such as using yeast to turn plant sugars into ethanol, already account for a few percent of the energy mix, noted Arnold Demain, a microbial biologist at Drew University in Madison, N.J. Other processes, such as using bacteria to derive electricity from fuel cells, are still in the research and development stage but show potential for deployment a few years down the road.

Environment Photos Weekly: Lost Penguin, Typhoon, More

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 28, 2008   View Article

Captions for photos of environmental stories in the news. Shots include searing heat in China, an oil slick in New Orleans, haze at the Olympics in Beijing, Typhoon Fung Wong in Taiwan, and a rescued penguin in Brazil.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach