High school students present theories on recent AR quakes

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

WILSON, AR (KAIT) - Rivercrest High School Teacher Amy Crismon has shakes and quakes on the brain.

Her students have been plotting earthquakes since October and coming up with theories as to why the recent quakes in the area are not all centered on the New Madrid Fault Line. The theories had to be backed up by research and made into power point presentations to be presented to the class.

It is interesting to look at the different ideas that they came up with.

Anybody can have a theory on anything. Environmental Science teacher Amy Crismon agrees and gave her seniors free rein.

Crismon, "They then had to back that up scientifically and that has led us to the point we are at today." 11 students, 11 theories.

The period they monitored was the quakes that occurred in the month of October last year.

Jacob Hickingbottom's theory centers around Ultra Low Frequency waves. Theses quakes he said, actually do occur as the magnetic fields in the earths core move around.

Hickingbottom, "Large concentrations of magnetic energy could cause the plates to move causing earthquakes."

Jarrett Brown says the quakes have always been happening even without fracking. Technology backs him up with regards to how and where the quakes are monitored.

Brown, "The seismometer is still in place in Wolly State Park where the quakes are still happening."

Richard Bailey says twisted faults or "Kinks" are the culprits. Kinks are remnants of the 1811 quake. "When the big New Madrid earthquake happened it caused various faults under Arkansas and that within Arkansas they have caused kinks and the kinks can cause earthquakes. They are just so pressured together they can break and cause earthquakes."

Jerry Jones says go with the flow. "It's been happening since 1811 and I guess fracking started around 2000 and it's going to keep on happening so go with it." His cause theory, is the jury is still out.

Courtney Weathers, Tyler  Worsham and Casey Chandler are in the "Fracking as the cause" camp. Fracking is the process by which water is pumped into a well to force the natural gas out of the ground.

Courtney actually has a couple of ideas on the earthquake causes."Natural gas drilling and fracking is probably the main cause of the earthquakes." However, she says, "Along the lines of the New Madrid Fault actually forming through Arkansas, like shifting? Making a new line, like it could happen."

Tyler Worsham claims his proof as to what happened when several fracking wells were recently shut down. "The earthquakes have actually decreased in Central Arkansas." he said

Numbers of earthquakes tell the story. We asked Courtney Brown to look up the  numbers of quakes for comparison. First the month they studied, October of 2010.

Brown, "From October First to October 31st there were over 200." Then we had her count up the current number of quakes. " From March First to today there has been 187." not a lot of difference.

So what does that mean for the Fracking theories? Casey Chandler smiled the smile of a scientist facing another challenge.

"It's most likely it may not be correct. You can find another solution for the problem." Chandler said.

And that's what science is all about.

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