Quantcast

It's Official: Oklahoma Experiences More Earthquakes Than Anywhere Else in the World

Popular

It's official: Oklahoma now has more earthquakes than anywhere else in the world, according to a spokesman from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), which oversees the Sooner State's oil and gas industry.

Several earthquakes have struck Oklahoma in just these past four days. As Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner said about the state's increased seismic activity, "We've got an earthquake issue." Photo credit:
Earthquaketrack.com

"We have had 15 [earthquakes] in Medford since 5 o'clock Saturday morning," said spokesman Matt Skinner on Nov. 9, according to the Enid News. “We’ve got an earthquake issue.”

"OCC has developed areas of interest, where earthquake clusters have occurred. A cluster is two earthquakes within a half mile of each other, with one measuring at least magnitude 3.2. Originally, they were three-mile circles, then six-mile circles. The circles grew in number and now encompass a very large area of Oklahoma—about 9,000 square miles in all, [Skinner] said," reported the Enid News.

Scientists have linked this never-ending spate of tremors to the state's drilling boom. The Oklahoma Geological Survey concluded that the injection of wastewater byproducts into deep underground disposal wells from fracking operations has triggered the seismic activity in Oklahoma.

As EcoWatch reported two months ago, Oklahoma went from two earthquakes a year before 2009 to two a day. This year, roughly 700 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or higher has shook the state, compared to 20 in 2009.

The tremors are such a frequent occurrence that the OCC has forced changes to 500 disposal wells around the state, including the shut down of wells around the city of Cushing, which holds one of the largest crude oil storage facilities in the world.

The OCC is requiring well operators to show that water is not being injected below the state's deepest rock formations, which is believed to contribute to the earthquakes.

Incidentally, Oklahoma has about 4,500 disposal wells with about 3,500 still in operation, so these regulations only applied to a small fraction of the wells.

Skinner said the Oklahoma Geological Survey has seen an overall reduction in earthquakes. However, he noted, "Now, this weekend may have blown that out of the water, I don't know."

"Again, based on the data, it would appear that even if you do the right thing, it's going to take a long time," he said. "There's no quick off switch."

In August, even pro-business Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin admitted there was a "direct correlation between the increase of earthquakes that we’ve seen in Oklahoma [and] disposal wells."

However, Fallin is still weighing some of the pros and cons of fracking in her state. Oklahoma is one of the top natural gas-producing states in the country, and the sector provides a significant number of jobs in the state.

“We want to do it wisely without harming the economic activity we certainly enjoy and the revenue, quite frankly, we certainly enjoy,” Fallin said. “The council has worked very hard to ensure the energy sector, state agencies, environmentalists and academia are all talking and sharing that data and we have a scientific-based approach to reducing seismicity in our state.”

Many Oklahomans are worried that, one day, a damaging earthquake could strike. Fallin's advice to residents is that "they should call their insurance agent and see what types of products are available," to protect themselves. This advice from the governor was unsurprisingly met by criticism.

Angela Spotts, co-founder of Stop Fracking Oklahoma (formerly Stop Fracking Payne County), said many insurance policies have high deductibles and cover only catastrophic damage, according to Tulsa World.

“It really appears to me we are protecting the industry in this state,” Spotts said. “Their jobs are important. But my home and all the people I speak for that don’t have the courage to stand up and speak out, our lives, homes, property and well-being is every bit as important as the jobs in the oil and gas industry. And I sincerely don’t believe the actions have been quick enough and fast enough and protecting from one of the big ones from happening."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE 

Portland Bans Fossil Fuel Export

Gov. Cuomo Vetoes Port Ambrose Liquefied Natural Gas Project

TransCanada’s Next Move? Pipeline to Mexico Carrying U.S. Fracked Gas

Pennsylvania Township Passes Bill of Rights Banning Fracking Wastewater Injection Wells

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

California Condor at soaring at the Grand Canyon. Pavliha / iStock / Getty Images

North America's largest bird passed an important milestone this spring when the 1,000th California condor chick hatched since recovery efforts began, NPR reported Sunday.

Read More Show Less
The Roloway monkey has been pushed closer to extinction. Sonja Wolters / WAPCA / IUCN

The statistics around threatened species are looking grim. A new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has added more than 9,000 new additions to its Red List of threatened species, pushing the total number of species on the list to more than 105,000 for the first time, according to the Guardian.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / Getty Images

The campaign to re-elect President Donald Trump has found a new way to troll liberals and sea turtles.

Read More Show Less
Night long exposure photograph of wildifires in Santa Clarita, California. FrozenShutter / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristy Dahl

Last week, UCS released Killer Heat, a report analyzing how the frequency of days with a dangerously hot heat index — the combination of temperature and humidity the National Weather Service calls the "feels like" temperature — will change in response to the global emissions choices we make in the coming decades.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A Zara store in Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Timahaowemi / CC BY-SA 3.0

Green is the new black at Zara.

The Spanish fast fashion behemoth has made a bold move to steer its industry to a more environmentally friendly future for textiles. Inditex, Zara's parent company, announced that all the polyester, cotton and linen it uses will be sustainably produced by 2025, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Whether you enjoy running recreationally, competitively, or as part of your overall wellness goals, it's a great way to improve your heart health.

Read More Show Less
Text from the plaque that will mark the site where Ok glacier once was. Rice University

By Andrea Germanos

A climate change victim in Iceland is set to be memorialized with a monument that underscores the urgent crisis.

Read More Show Less