A recent post at Ecocosmology Blog indicated that scientists have studied the varying effects and pressures of ocean levels on the crust of the Earth.
Their studies considered global warming, combined with geological activity over many thousands of years, and they found that the level of the ocean can trigger some volcanic, as well as some earthquake activity.
We need to focus on the word "trigger" here, because that was the intent of the scientific view in the post linked to above.
We know that tectonic plate activity and magma are the greater essences and factors of such geological activity, but what we intend to focus on in this post is the potential trigger for those events.
That trigger is changing pressures.
Just like a trigger is a small part of a rifle, a trigger of a volcano or earthquake is a small part of the event, nevertheless, it is a real and identifiable part.
With that in mind, let us consider a hypothesis that applies global warming to the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, just like the Ecocosmology Blog post linked to above applied global warming as a trigger for volcanic activity.
First, recall that there is a difference between a cause and a trigger, because the trigger is only "the straw that broke the camel's back", as we say.
The premise is that whether or not pressures can rise to the point of triggering some volcanic activity or tremors, it certainly can not be doubted that it can change the level and degree of pressure in and under the Earth's crust.
What that translates into is an increased pressure on gases and oil pools under the surface of that crust.
Thus the old assumptions about pressure levels and designs of equipment based upon those pre-ocean level rise assumptions and calibrations must be revisited.
There were signs that something was different on the Deepwater Horizon pool of oil prior to its exploding on April 20, and its later sinking on Earth Day, April 22:
... a series of problems were also detected in the 24 hours before the blast, including unexpected pressure rises ... warning signs kept coming right up until just minutes before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded ... "more fluid began flowing out of the well than was being pumped in" ...(Multiple Warnings). A comment made by the CEO is also telling:
"I think the first thing to recognize is that this is an unprecedented accident, and the industry that has been working in the deep water for 25 years and not had to contend with this ..."(Final decision). This is not to say or advocate that there is no liability for the oil industry, because these pressure changes were foreseeable.
It is not that difficult to see that as the ocean levels rise, because global warming is melting the ice caps and glaciers, weight on the Earth's crust will change as will the pressures on oil and gas deposits underneath the sea floor portion of the Earth's crust.
The pressures will not always change enough to trigger volcanic or earthquake activity, but it takes orders of magnitude less pressure than that to effect man-made machinery.
Thus, since the engineering assumptions will be impacted, good engineers will need to take all that into serious consideration, as will government regulators, legislators, and inspectors, as they rethink the reality beneath their feet.
The next post in this series is here.