Seismic movement could assist in oil production

Like so much else in this crazy world, earthquakes are bad for you but potentially good for oil companies. Seismic shaking appears to increase permeability of underground rocks, leading to easier oil flow. “[T]his has practical implications for oil extraction,” says University of California scientist Emily Brodsky, who with two other researchers published findings in Nature. Artificially shaking the ground, the researchers believe, could help extractors obtain oil from natural reservoirs; scientists already use vibroseis trucks (trucks that shake the ground) to take a sort of X-ray of the earth, determining the structure of rocks and locating oil. “Potentially if you could increase permeability you could greatly increase the available oil you could tap out of a reserve,” Brodsky said. The researchers are now working to pinpoint the amplitude and frequency of seismic waves that best get the oil flowin’.