Strong Earthquakes Rattle Oklahoma Again & Again

by Duane Nichols on November 24, 2015

Strong Earthquake Rattles Oklahoma, Felt in 7 Other States

From an Article by Lorraine Chow,, November 19, 2015

A 4.7 magnitude earthquake struck northern Oklahoma Thursday night, followed by two more. Kansas and other neighboring states also felt the quakes miles away. Oklahoma City’s KOCO 5 News reports that the first and strongest earthquake was Oklahoma’s largest since 2011.

According to Reuters, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the 1:42 a.m. quake’s epicenter was centered 8 miles southwest of Cherokee, Oklahoma, with a depth of 3.8 miles.

KOCO 5 News reported that there were two additional Cherokee quakes on Thursday: a 3.1 magnitude earthquake at 3:46 a.m. and a 3.7 magnitude earthquake at 6:03 a.m

While there have been no reports of significant damage, both Oklahoma and Kansas have seen repeated seismic activity over the past decade, especially in recent years. The frequent temblors have been tied to the states’ drilling booms. The Oklahoma Geological Survey concluded that the injection of wastewater byproducts into deep underground disposal wells from fracking operations has awakened the state’s dormant fault lines.

Oklahoma now has more earthquakes than anywhere else in the world, a spokesperson from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission reported. Before 2009, Oklahoma felt two earthquakes per year, but now there are two per day, EcoWatch reported in September. This year, roughly 700 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or higher has shook the state compared to a mere 20 in 2009.

In a joint statement last year, the USGS and the Oklahoma Geological Survey said that the risk of a damaging earthquake—one larger than magnitude 5.0—has significantly increased in central Oklahoma.

As for Kansas, the Washington Post reported last month that the number of earthquakes in the state have jumped from only four in 2013 to a whopping 817 in 2014.

The quakes happen so often that officials in both states have been forced to shut down multiple disposal wells. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which oversees the Sooner State’s oil and gas industry, required changes to 500 disposal wells around the state, including the shutdown of wells near Cushing, Oklahoma, which holds one of the largest crude oil storage facilities in the world.

The Kansas Corporation Commission also decided to limit the underground injection disposal of saltwater from oil wells in April.

In August, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin admitted that there was a “direct correlation between the increase of earthquakes that we’ve seen in Oklahoma [and] disposal wells.” Fallin, however, must weigh the pros and cons of fracking in her state, as the sector provides a significant number of jobs.

Still, thousands of disposal wells in both states are still in operation, which suggests that the constant seismic activity is far from over. Many Oklahoma and Kansas residents have voiced concerns about the earthquakes.

In addition to Oklahoma and Kansas, other major oil and gas states such as Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio and Texas have observed more earthquakes that are linked to wastewater injection activity, IBTimes reported.

See also:

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

Gov. Cuomo Vetoes Port Ambrose Liquefied Natural Gas Project

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Dee Fulton December 2, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Big 4.7 Magnitude Earthquake Among 7 Recorded in Oklahoma

Associated Press Article by Sean Murphy, ABC News, Oklahoma City, OK

At least seven earthquakes rattled north-central Oklahoma on Monday, including one felt 300 miles away in Iowa, prompting concern from local residents and policymakers that the state isn’t doing enough to curb the quakes that scientists have linked to oil and gas activity.

Oklahoma has become one of the most earthquake-prone areas in the world, with the number of quakes magnitude 3.0 skyrocketing from a few dozen in 2012 to more than 720 so far this year. Many of the earthquakes are occurring in swarms in areas where injection wells pump salty wastewater — a byproduct of oil and gas production — deep into the earth.

“It lasted for several seconds, but it’s hard to tell when you just wake up,” resident Frankie Robbins said of the 4.7 temblor that hit before 4 a.m. Monday some 16 miles from his home in Medford, which is about 80 miles south of Wichita, Kansas.

Robbins said the quakes left a few pictures askew on his wall, and he noticed a door frame in his house is “tighter than it used to be.” And while no major damage or injuries were reported, Robbins said residents are growing increasingly uneasy about the frequency of the quakes.

“There’s definitely a sense of concern for some people when they feel them in the middle of the night,” Robbins said.

State regulators have taken steps to try and curb the number of quakes, working with disposal well operators in the area to have them reduce the volume in disposal wells or shut them down entirely. But so far the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s voluntary program has done little to curb the number of quakes.

State Rep. Cory Williams, a vocal critic of the state’s response to the rise in seismic activity, praises the work done so far by the commission, but said overall the state’s governor and Legislature has done little to address the problem since a state-record, 5.6-magnitude quake in 2011 that damaged 200 buildings and shook a college football stadium.

“The problem is we’re being totally reactionary as opposed to proactive,” said Williams, D-Stillwater. “We wait for a seismic event, and then we react to it, which is an abysmal policy for handling something that can cause catastrophic damage to property and/or life.”

Williams said the powerful oil and gas lobby at the Capitol has kept lawmakers from taking any steps to regulate the industry. To make matters worse, he said, under a bill pushed by the industry that Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law last year, cities and towns would no longer be able to regulate oil and gas operations within their boundaries. A similar bill was signed into law in Texas.

“There’s really just mass incompetence on the part of the Legislature not to do anything about this,” Williams said. “They just don’t seem to care.”

But oil and gas industry officials say they’re working with regulators to come up with a solution to the earthquake problem that doesn’t jeopardize an industry that is critical to the state’s economy.

“If you just shut it down, it would be devastating,” said Chad Warmington, president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association. “The goal is to be able to reduce earthquakes and still be able to produce.”
See Oklahoma earthquakes:


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