Historic earthquake shakes Norway’s Svalbard region.

Norway’s Aftenposten reported an earthquake of historic proportions shaking Norway’s Arctic archipelago of Svalbard last Thursday. It is thought to have been the strongest earthquake in Norwegian history.

Aftenposten.no reported that the research institute NORSAR measured the quake at 6.2 on the Richter Scale, and placed its epicenter at Storfjorden, about 140 kilometers (84 miles) southeast of Longyearbyen.

The part of the article that posed an interesting thought was the conclusion:

“Earthquakes are not uncommon either on the Norwegian mainland or on its vast offshore continental shelf, but they generally measure less than 4 on the Richter Scale. Stronger and more frequent quakes could have consequences for Norway’s major offshore oil and gas industries, and its oil exploration activities.

Referring to the NORSAR website yielded some interesting data and research on seismic activity in Norway and the surrounding oceans.

The activities NORSAR undertakes in its seismology section includes those related to earthquakes comprising consulting and research within: seismotectonics, earthquake hazard, vulnerability and risk analyses, seismic modelling techniques (both on- and off-shore) and microseismic monitoring.

Its website also states that “projects performed by NORSAR during the past few years include earthquake surveys and hazard studies in Norway and abroad for nuclear and hydroelectric power plants, large tunnels, and off-shore installations such as oil platforms and pipelines.”

An interesting section referred to “Induced Seismicity” which discussed earthquakes induced by human activity triggered by proximity to human activity or by stress buildup directly related to human activity. NORSAR says that there no scientific consensus pointing to direct causal link between subsidence and seismic activity however they do not rule out the possibility in some instances.

There is an interesting book that discusses this, Induced Earhquakes, by Santosh Kumar Guha that gives an overview of the earthquakes mentioned by NORSAR and taking the point of view that oil and gas exploration can in some cases induce earthquakes. A preview can be read at the link mentioned. He posits the view that there is a need for hazards estimation before embarking on exploration.

Even if the possibility of induced earthquakes is minimal, the very possibility of seismic activity increasing in the exploration areas in the future may require more rigorous investigation before launching new ventures. It does remain an interesting thought.

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~ by abstraktbiblos on Monday, 25 February, 2008.

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