Wednesday 18 April 2012

Shake Rattle And Roll

It was 1 a.m. and the fridge had yielded unexpected delights so it was time for a breath of fresh air on a cold night.  Touching the window to feel how cold I felt a very slight vibration and realised there was sound out there. 

When the window was open it was apparent that it was one or other of the clubs in town belting out the low frequency decibels.  What it must have been like for those very close could be imagined and the effect on the actual buildings.

There have been many times in the past when the vibrations have not been good.  One “digs” I was in for a very short while in Earls Court seemed a great deal.  When I realised that it was over the Piccadilly and District Lines the reason for its cheapness was all too clear.

The lady who owned the flat was the widow of a man who had fought the Zulu’s, the place was full of shields and memorabilia and I felt that at times it would have been quieter to have a Zulu Impi in full cry.  She had lost her hearing as a result of blast in World War II and did not understand my point of view.

Sound carries physically and there have been other times when the shaking of earth has been apparent as well as hearing the cause.  Living on steep hill close to a gas works with a lot of lorried coal traffic was one and there have been others.  The old trams could really kick up some vibrations under certain condition.

Then there was the long period we lived in a mining district.  With the loss of almost all the mining industry has come the forgetting of the scale and severity of much of the subsidence that resulted from so many years of the getting of coal.  We were caught out and our neighbours had half their house rebuilt.

They were re-housed for some months but it was not all bad because the then National Coal Board did a decent job and put right all the faults that the original builders had left, so they were better off at the end of it.  We could not complain, we were fully redecorated and damage dealt with.

But along our street it must have cost a good deal of money and after the end of the NCB and under the new regime of the 1980’s there was a much harder and meaner line taken with people whose houses had suffered damage.  It became much more difficult to have work done and cost much more to the unlucky householder.

Now we face a potential energy crisis in the UK as a result of the dilatory and cowardly failure to work out sensible ways of dealing with the future.  It has become clear that all the publicity stunts and photo opportunity wheezes are not going to provide the energy that either we currently need or will need in the future.

So now we need to go fracking for oil one way or another.  This may deliver energy but for those who read the “Oil Drum” site not necessarily will it be cheap nor will it be free of the effects.  One unlucky consequence is the perturbation it can cause in the earth and rock structures around the workings.

In short vibrations and movement big enough to be described as “earthquakes” the location of which will be difficult to predict in terms of incidence and density.  One worry that has escaped comment to date is that modern building methods for housing are not designed much for either settlement or instability.

Also, in some areas where a great many houses in the past have been put up quickly and on the basis of minimal foundations or under structure there are extensive vulnerabilities to movement and deformation of the surface.

Long ago the damage that resulted from economic activity of many kinds including mining for coal, salt or other things would be called the price of progress.  There is still going to be a price for any progress but who is going to pay?

Don’t expect any sense from Westminster, they are shaking in their boots.

1 comment:

  1. There might be earthquakes caused by fracking, but they will be very small ones. The UK has quite a few very small ones every year. Anything less than 2.0 magnitude quake won't be felt. It would feel more like a truck passing by. Fracking tends to produce 0.5 quakes.

    Have a look at the British Geological Survey site to see when and where they occur. (Though for some reason they site isn't working too well at the moment, I think they are do some updates or something).