Human activity can cause destructive harm. Columbia University geophysical hazards research scientist, Christian Klose, studies how, including from mining. In a recent paper, he said:
"An unconfirmed report by the Russian Northern Fleets says the Haiti earthquake was caused by a flawed US Navy 'earthquake weapons' test...."
"mining activities disturb the in-situ stress in the upper continental crust and can trigger earthquakes (human-triggered seismicity)."
Past examples are numerous:
* from potash and other mining in Germany since the 19th century;
* potash mining in Bulgaria;
* copper mining in Silesia;
* ore mining in Russia;
* coal and other mining in various parts of America, including New York state, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming; and
* coal and other mining in China and throughout the world.
Klose also says geophysical data suggest that the Zipingpu Dam, a few kilometers from the epicenter of China's 7.9 magnitude 2008 earthquake, likely triggered it. In a December 2008 presentation at the American Geophysical Union, he explained:
"Several geophysical observations suggest this (quake) was triggered by local and abnormal mass imbalances on the surface of the Earth's crust. These observations include (1) elastostatic response of the crust to the mass changes, (2) slip distribution of the main rupture, and (3) aftershock distribution."
A follow-up issue of Science magazine explained further stating:
"the added weight both eased the squeeze on the fault, weakening it, and increased the stress tending to rupture (it). The effect was 25 times that of a year's worth of natural stress loading from tectonic motions. When the fault did finally rupture, it moved just the way the reservoir loading had encouraged it to...."
Klose also says that two centuries of coal mining triggered the 1989 Newcastle, Australia quake, killing 13 and causing billions of dollars in damage. Data show that increased post-WW II production "dramatic(ally increased) the stress change in the crust," setting it off and raising questions about how mining operates.
"You have two chances to avoid this, whether you reduce the hazard or reduce the vulnerability - so whether you mine in a more sustainable way or have urban planning in other areas away from the mining regions."
In addition, Klose estimates that human activity caused one-fourth of Britain's quakes, not just from mining. An Andrew Alden geology.about.com article headlined, "Earthquakes in a Nutshell" says:
"Earthquakes are natural ground motions caused as the Earth releases energy. The science of earthquakes is seismology (the study of shaking). Earthquake energy comes from the stresses of plate tectonics. As plates move, the rocks on their edges deform and take up strain until the weakest point, a fault, ruptures and releases the strain."