Researchers are calling for further studies regarding the possible connection between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes, following a 4.0-magnitude temblor near a natural gas well in Youngstown, Ohio. "To me it seems that, especially if more research were done, it's possible to establish some areas of the country where you could do almost any amount of injection," said Cliff Frohlich, a University of Texas researcher.
Recent quakes such as the destructive tremor in Japan and the insurance industry's preparations for Europe's Solvency II regulation are pushing up demand for reinsurance, prompting Aon and Marsh to consider increasing their rates, according to Stifel Nicolaus. "This confluence of events pushes up the amount of severity that these regulators will use. They'll insist that insurers have more reinsurance," said Meyer Shields, an analyst with the firm.
The changes in atmospheric pressure could create conditions that can set off earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions, according to a study by U.S. researchers. Air pressure during storms as well as longer periods of calm weather could destabilize the surface soil and rocks, and lead to seismic activity, the lead researcher said.
San Francisco's Bay Bridge will be capable of withstanding a major earthquake when a replacement span is completed, officials said. A computer-generated simulation released by state officials shows the bridge moving with an earthquake's vibrations instead of resisting them. It is designed to withstand the largest plausible earthquake in a 1,500-year period. "It will be one of the safest places to be in an earthquake," a Caltrans spokesman said.
Global warming could alter the Earth's crust and lead to more earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, a group of scientists warned. The geological impact also could set off the release of greenhouse gas stored underground in quantities greater than all the carbon dioxide present in today's atmosphere, they said.