The major earthquake in Ecuador last week reminds me of the danger of pipeline ruptures caused by earthquakes. Pipeline ruptures have caused major damage in Latin America. Most areas in Latin America are very prone to earthquakes, but the same applies in many parts of the world. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are 14,000 earthquakes worldwide each year that have a magnitude of 4 or greater. Alaska has experienced 700 earthquakes. California suffers 15 to 20 earthquakes per year greater than magnitude 4.0.

Earthquakes are a risk for both liquid and gas pipelines. “If an earthquake occurs, high-pressure gas lines are one of the most important items to protect,” said Steven Bartlett. “If they rupture and ignite, you essentially have a large blowtorch, which can be catastrophic.” 1

Understanding that earthquakes pose a real threat, every pipeline operator should be able to detect a rupture fast with 100% confidence and a plan to shut down the pipeline quickly and safely. Rupture detection software is an inexpensive way to improve earthquake preparedness that can be implemented quickly. In addition, there is a tool available to quickly perform a surge analysis and determine the safest way to initiate an emergency shutdown of a hazardous pipeline. This tool is purpose-built to simplify and automate the surge analysis process and submit a detailed report to the relevant authorities as required by law in the US.

Rupture detection software and a well-planned response will help minimize the consequences of a pipeline rupture.


1. Bartlett, Steven F. “Protecting Pipelines from Earthquakes.” 2012 News Archives. University of Utah. 02 Oct. 2012. Web. 08 Jan. 2013

Categories: Industry news

By: Atmos International
Date: 15 April 2019