Flaky Shaky Frankie

Well Friday wasn’t a good day for Mr Egan and he was looking rather tired as he gave several interviews to TV news channels.

I was particularly interested though by the one he gave to Alex Thompson of Channel 4 News.  Mr Egan was visibly rattled by being asked about seismicity and blustered his way out of the corner with some “information” which seemed rather dubious to me.

In this clip he takes issue with the earthquakes being described as “earthquakes” and not “tremors” and states :

Well particularly when you say it’s an earthquake because at 2.3 on the Richter scale and our background seismic monitoring which we have been carrying out for many months here demonstrates that one of those happens every few months

So here he seems to be telling us that the seismic monitoring  which they have been carrying out for “many months” has detected a number of earthquakes of magnitude 2.3 or thereabouts.

This is very odd as their portal shows that, since November 2017, (the only data they show), there has not been a single seismic event detected in the area that is covered by their seismic arrays (the yellow circle) , or indeed in their entire licence area.

Surely this can’t be the case can it? Mr Egan wouldn’t mislead the public so,  would he?

Well, I checked on the BGS site and it backed up this information, returning no recorded seismic events  within 50 km of the site since July 2016.

If we were to draw a circle 100 kilometres  in radius around the Preston New Road site we would find that only 3 earthquakes have been recorded over Magnitude 2 over the last 5 years. That’s hardly one every few months is it, and that’s an area rather larger than his seismic arrays record.

If we look at a circle of 25 km radius around the site we can see that over the last 10 years there have only been 53 recorded seismic events. Of these 53,  50 occurred at Preese Hall Farm between 31/3/11 and 27/5/11 with only one being of a magnitude greater than 1.5. These were the tremors that led to the temporary moratorium on fracking in 2011. One other quake occurred later in 2011 also at Preese Hall farm. Finally two quakes occurred in the Irish Sea in 2014 and 2016, both having magnitudes of 1.2.

It would seem then that Mr Egan’s suggestion that background seismic monitoring carried our by Cuadrilla for several months demonstrates that a quake of magnitude 2.3 happens every few months might be a little hard to sustain if challenged.  I wonder if Channel 4 should ask him for more details next time they chat?

Cuadrilla are planning to tip toe into fracking as reported in the Financial Times in September 2018, because they know that the next earthquake will kill the UK industry at birth.

With this in mind, trying to normalise in advance the potential seismic events that clearly have Cuadrilla rather rattled would be a sensible move for Mr Egan, but sadly for him the facts really don’t stack up here.

Any further clusters of seismic events like those that occurred at Preese Hall will sound the death knell of fracking in the UK

We’ll leave the final word to Huw Clarke, Cuadrilla’s chief geologist

In terms of natural seismicity it’s actually fairly quiet. Most of the ground activity that occurs in Lancashire occurs because of us and what we’re doing already.

Shhh! Don’t let Frankie hear you saying things like that Huw!

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