South Korea’s Most-Destructive Quake Was Triggered by Geothermal Plant

By: | April 6th, 2019

Image courtesy Wikipedia

Natural disasters are beyond our control, but some are definitely influenced by the destructive activities we do.

South Korea experienced the second-most powerful tremor in 2017, injuring 90 people and causing $52 million worth of destruction. Recent investigations have exposed that it was triggered by the country’s first experimental geothermal power plant situated in the city of Pohang. This power plant cost around $71 million to build and test operations began in 2016.

For tapping heat from the Earth’s crust, the geothermal plant works by injecting high-pressure water deep underground. Thousands of gallons of water are pumped deep under the Earth’s surface. The hot water is then brought back up to the surface and is used to generate electricity.

Lee Kang-kun, who led the research, explained that this process had produced micro-sized seismic activity. Kim added, “And as time passed, this triggered the earthquake in Pohang,”

“We concluded that the Pohang earthquake was a ‘triggered quake’. It wasn’t a natural earthquake.”

Considering the threat to the communities living in the vicinity of a geothermal plant, the Pohang plant has been shut down permanently.

Kim says. “We still do not understand what is happening and what will happen.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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