Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Oklahoma No. 2 for Earthquakes in Recent Years, Analysis Shows

A disposal well in northwest Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A disposal well in northwest Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is four years into a “swarm” of unusual earthquakes, and is now the second most seismically active state in the continental United States, an EnergyWire analysis shows.

Two hundred and forty earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater — the threshold at which people can generally perceive them — have been reported in Oklahoma since 2009. That means 10 percent of the earthquakes in the continental U.S. have occurred in Oklahoma, according to the news service.

EnergyWire’s Mike Soraghan reports:

Most of the state’s quakes can be grouped into four seismic outbreaks since early 2009 that academics and researchers of various stripes have linked to oil and gas activities, primarily deep underground injection of drilling wastewater.

Drilling activity has been linked to earthquakes in other states, like Texas, Arkansas, Colorado and Ohio, but the link “has been tough to accept for many Oklahomans,” EnergyWire reports:

While they’re not used to earthquakes here, they’re quite accustomed to pump jacks and deep injection wells. Oklahoma is dotted with more than 4,500 such wells. Oil and gas is a pillar of the economy and provides a lot of solid paychecks in the state.

Skeptics note that drilling and injection had been going on for decades before the ground shaking of the past few years.

Oklahoma officials haven’t accepted the findings, even when they came from a professor, Katie Keranen at the University of Oklahoma, housed in the same building as the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS). Keranen, who has moved to Cornell University, linked the Prague quake to injection.

Some Oklahomans, like Jonny Hickman, told reporter Soraghan they believe there’s a link:

“Forty-five years I’ve lived on this hill,” said Hickman, 52. “I never felt anything until they started injecting that salt water.”

Others, like Love County Commissioner Herschel “Bub” Peery, share the oil industry’s skepticism:

“They’re blaming injection wells. I don’t really believe it,” he said. “A lot of people want someone to blame.”

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  • richardguldi

    When do you expect Oklahoma will be able to claim “we’re number one?”

    • chemallurgy

      When we stop being arrogant and begin fixing the problems. When we begin saving lives through the expansion of medicaid. When we stop allowing religious tenets to dictate our laws. When our leaders stop allowing A.L.E.C. and other groups to WRITE our bills. When the media begins to do their job and report the truth instead of kissing corporate heiny. :)
      Good question, by the way.

      • richardguldi

        That was a much better answer than any I had in mind. Thanks !

  • I will bet somebody $1000 if you turn off all of the Doppler Radar Towers in/around Oklahoma City, the “booms” in your sky and tremors will stop. They are pulsing a few MILLION watts of microwave radiation 24/7 into your atmosphere and through you 24/7. No long term study has ever been done. Think of the atmosphere as a capacitor and the Earth as a battery and you will understand.

  • richardguldi

    There’s plenty of documentation showing that earthquakes started appearing in areas where they had hardly ever previously occurred. This began at the same time that fracking began there. Where’s the documentation showing microwaves cause earthquakes?

  • matt

    Look into earth wobble, Niburi, and the earth ripping itself apart from the inside!

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