Swarm of earthquakes rocked Clintonville
The U.S. Geological Survey has finally solved the superficial mystery: the noises were due to a "swarm" of shallow surface earthquakes. These earthquakes caused a variety of noises, depending on what they were shaking at the time. And obviously they would account for localized trembling of the ground, as well.
The broader question is, why a swarm of shallow earthquakes? Why now, why here? Apparently the earthquakes caused more problems in Clintonville than they would have elsewhere, because of the geography and geology of the area. But can this really have been the first time in recorded history that such a phenomena has taken place?
Government and oil industry experts have dismissed claims that these earthquakes could have been caused by fracking. But it is inarguably true that Wisconsin is "ground zero" for fracking these days. More fracking takes place in Wisconsin than in any other state.
It's an odd coincidence, to be sure!
Fracking is making a lot of people nervous, because it involves pumping high pressure fluids and gases into the bedrock. Despite industry assurances, it seems impossible that this kind of activity wouldn't cause geologic issues. And in fact there is a fairly substantial body of evidence linking fracking activity to earthquakes, up to and including a 4.0 earthquake that hit Youngstown, Ohio on New Year's Eve 2011.
Granted, fracking has become everyone's favorite whipping boy lately. However, state regulators ruled that the Youngstown earthquake was "almost certainly" induced by wastewater fracking. With several established cases of fracking causing earthquakes, it's not implausible to wonder how far it's going to go.
Time to rock and roll? Is this the new normal? And just how far will we go to protect our current petroleum-based lifestyle? It's hard not to look at an incident like this and wonder when we will start building out solar panels in earnest!