Friday, February 10, 2006

5.2 Earthquake Dead Center In Gulf Of Mexico


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

A mid-sized earthquake shook the Gulf of Mexico today. This is where it is geologically pretty stable. It is also right next to the huge salt domes where much of the oil and gas is being extracted. A retired geologist, Mr. Jack M. Reed, theorized there has to be a hidden tectonic plate segment in this spot and it is not only geologically active but is responsible for triggering the New Madrid Quakes.

I found this after writing my article! It is just too cool. This geologist predicted correctly! From the American Association of Petroleum Geologists:
The New Madrid seismic zone in Missouri has long intrigued scientists because, according to conventional geologic theory, large earthquakes clustered in a tectonically quiet region are difficult to understand.

But at least one AAPG member is challenging the crowd.

New Orleans independent geologist Jack M. Reed believes the origin of the earthquakes lies beneath the Gulf of Mexico.

That's not all.

Reed, a retired Texaco geologist-geophysicist who has been studying the region's geology for over 40 years, says the accepted theory of a quiet geologic evolution of the Gulf of Mexico Basin is fundamentally flawed and needs to be revised.

According to him, the Gulf was and is tectonically active -- and it is the likely origin for not only the New Madrid seismic activity, but also for the Middleton Place-Summerville seismic zone near Charleston, S.C.
I grew up around geologists working with my dad on siting observatories. One puzzle they all liked to chew over at leisure is the riddle of the New Madrid Fault. It made no sense.

Today's earthquake, no small one, was an eye-opener which is why, the minute I saw it in today's data, I jumped on it.
From the good geologist:
"This northeast trending earthquake zone appears to connect with the northeast trending Monroe Uplift, the LaSalle Arch and, possibly, to an active seismic zone located in and around Sabine Lake on the Texas-Louisiana border," he said.

This complex of doming and seismic centers is similar to another Cretaceous age triple juncture located in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico Basin. Doming of the DeSoto Canyon High during the Jurassic to Cretaceous created this triple juncture, which includes the Cretaceous Shelf Edge, the Suwannee Strait and the West Florida Escarpment.

If the New Madrid seismic zone is indeed part of a triple juncture, he continued, there should be an expression of this limb trending along a line in a northeast direction.

So Reed conducted a study using data from the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center and the USGS map "Earthquakes in the Conterminous United States." He only studied earthquakes measuring at least magnitude 5, and found that while most of the earthquake centers are random with no alignment, there is a well-defined earthquake trend extending northeastward from the New Madrid seismic zone across the United States to Canada, where it joins with the St. Lawrence River seismic zone.

Within the boundaries of this earthquake alignment there are:

Sixty-one seismic points that have a magnitude of 5 and greater.
Several large earthquakes dating to the early 1800s, all measuring over magnitude 8, all occurring within a couple of months of each other, all centered in a northeast trending line.
The two 5+ earthquakes that occurred earlier this year in northern New York state and southern Indiana.
"There is definitely some form of movement occurring along this trend," Reed said, "and it appears to be active today."
Well, it really was active today! I bet he is happy as a lark, seeing more evidence his personal theory is correct. I hope this gets good coverage for it is a major geological "find"! Indeed. Congratulations, Mr. Reed! Take a bow.

Click here for raw data. Click here for the earthquake world map. I have noticed over the last year or so, many earthquakes like to happen at 10.0 km. Whether under water or on land. It is like the earth's crust has this blanket on top that operates independent of the lower layers. Some of our nastiest quakes occur at this depth, the earth's blanket being shaken and tugged like Mother Nature is straightening out the bed.

The geology where this happened is interesting because it isn't all that prone to earthquakes. Just last week, I noted there was a much gentler earthquake right in New Orleans just when tornadoes were hitting that poor city! The New Madrid Fault has been shaking a bit, lately. As if it were trembling, waiting for something.

The continental shelf falls rapidly where today's quake happened and maybe the entire Mississippi valley is ready for some serious alterations. The Mid-Atlantic ridge had a 4.6 mag earthquake right next to Iceland which is the volcanic island erupting out of the northern end of the Mid-Atlantic ridge. It, too, was at the interesting depth of 10.0km. Santiago, Chile, had a 4.2 quake at pretty much the same time. I noted this morning that the earth was very quiet for the previous 24 hrs and said to myself, "There are going to be some interesting shakes today," for these quakes are tending to swarm across great distances, like the earth is shuddering still from the side effects of the big blow out last winter.

The geological stability of this part of the Gulf is very important for us since we have deep drilling going on there and if the earth shifts, the various layers shift at different rates so a pipe going straight down can get displaces and cease working as a well.OCSBBS:
There have been significant new discoveries (such as Great White, Trident, Chinook, St. Malo, and Cascade) in the ultra-deep waters of Walker Ridge and Alaminos Canyon. These discoveries open up a whole new geologic play with exciting potential.

Industry has made great technological achievements in recent years. Examples include polyester mooring, composite risers, cell spars, and 15,000-psi subsea trees.

There was a 51 percent increase in the number of producing deepwater projects over the past 2 years.

Deepwater production has risen more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD) and over 400 million cubic feet per day (MMCFPD) each year since 1997. (Production volumes were only available through 2002 at the time of writing due to the production data lag.)

Subsea gas production has increased 90 percent since December 2000.

Since the start of 2000, new deepwater drilling has added over 4.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE).
We aren't awash in gas or oil, much of this deep water drilling simply replaces well heads that are beginning to fail.

From Priweb.org:
Just onshore, in south eastern Texas and southern Louisiana, the flowage of salt domes has been the predominant mechanism for creating traps for oil. Salt of Jurassic age occurs here. When it is put under immense pressure by overlying rocks, this salt, which is less dense than the rocks surrounding it, will begin to flow upward. As it does so, it displaces, folds, and faults the rocks around it. In this way, traps can be created.

The Louann Salt is more than 200 million years old, and is located at great depths along the Gulf of Mexico's shoreline. In some places, however, this salt has moved due to the enormous pressure being put on it from the rocks above.
This all takes us back to the beginning, namely, the great Permian age when living things began to rapidly evolve and creatures crawled out of the teeming seas and plants colonized the earth and the atmosphere filled with oxygen and it all came crashing down, as we talked about, this week.

The great salt flats covered over all the rich plant and animal life, the hot seas evaporated in the various shallow seas, tons of salt built up over millions of years as the planet slowly readjusted and life forms began to slowly recolonize the previously dead regions. All that stuff is what we are pumping out today and you might say, the ghosts of these once living creatures are now looming over us all.

UPDATE: I just found another paper by Mr. Reed on this same topic: From Oil & Gas Journal.
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