A small earthquake in Ohio in 2014 is among the largest thought to be induced directly by hydraulic fracturing

Ohio quake directly tied to fracking

A small earthquake in Ohio in 2014 is among the largest thought to be induced directly by hydraulic fracturing.

After a 3.0 magnitude earthquake March 10 that occurred near hydraulic fracturing (fracking) sites in Poland Township, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources halted nearby fracking activities. At the time, the department speculated that the earthquake was related to fracking; scientists have now found more substantial evidence for this link.

In a paper published this month in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, researchers report that fracking was most likely the cause of the 3.0 local magnitude earthquake, as well as 77 newly found much smaller quakes – which were not felt by the area’s residents – that occurred the previous week.

The Ohio earthquake is now thought to be the largest earthquake caused by fracking in the United States, according to Robert Skoumal, lead author of the paper and a seismologist at Miami University in Ohio. He stressed, however, that these fracking-induced “felt earthquakes” are extremely rare.

Radio collars track recovery of iconic mammal

Guanacos are back, says a team from the Wildlife Conservation Society tracking those iconic hoofed mammals across a variety of landscapes on the Chilean side of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, an island off the continent’s southern tip.

The scientists said guanacos – wild cousins to domestic llamas – are coming into increased conflict with sheep ranchers and loggers. The study, published in the journal Oryx, indicate that better understanding guanacos’ seasonal movements, coupled with a limited science-based, sustainable harvest of animals, may be the key to conserving this iconic species of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago.

Guanacos once numbered in the many millions in South America. By the mid-1970s on Isla Grande, as a result of hunting, competition from sheep and habitat degradation, the guanaco population had collapsed to approximately 7,000 on the Chilean side of the island. Since then, guanaco numbers have recovered to more than 60,000 as a result of hunting restrictions and reduced sheep numbers.

WCS conducted seasonal counts of guanacos and fitted 10 animals with radio collars in and around Karukinka Natural Park, a vast and protected wilderness. The team found that while some guanacos were more sedentary, others left the reserve to spend time in grasslands in the summer and forests in the winter, sometimes even crossing into Argentina.

Museum of Natural Sciences stages Astronomy Days

Next weekend in Raleigh, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, 11 W. Jones St., will hold a two-day event about astronomy and space exploration. The special guest is NASA astronaut Andrew Feustel, veteran of two space shuttle missions; he will make several presentations and then sign autographs.

Activities include safely looking at the sun through solar telescopes, making and launching bottle rockets on the museum plaza, seeing live animals emblematic of constellations (a bearded dragon lizard, for instance, represents the constellation called Draco, which is Latin for dragon), viewing displays and seeing other presentations. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission: free. Details: Staff reports

Giant bugs nest in Columbia’s S.C. State Museum

“BUGS! Giant Robotic Creatures” opens Jan. 24 at the South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais St., in downtown Columbia. The traveling exhibit, open through Sept. 7, contains six animatronic insects that are 40 to 120 times larger than the real creatures, including a 20-foot praying mantis. The exhibit also includes a live bug zoo, interactive and oversize robotic heads of a dragonfly, honeybee and mosquito, displays and photo ops. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 Monday-Friday (until 8 p.m. Tuesday), 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Basic admission includes “BUGS!”: $13.95; $11.95 for ages 3-12; $12.95 for 62 and older; 2 and younger, free. Details: Staff reports