Three to five relatively large earthquakes Monday, two within 20 minutes of each other, are part of a series of 40 in the last week that may be related to disposal wells from hydraulic fracturing fluids in Oklahoma.
The two back-to-back tremblers measured 4.0 and 4.5 on the Richter scale and were centred northwest of Oklahoma City. The state’s largest-ever earthquake, at 5.6 magnitude, was recorded in 2011.
- The climate news you need. Subscribe now to our engaging new weekly digest.
- You’ll receive exclusive, never-before-seen-content, distilled and delivered to your inbox every weekend.
- The Weekender: Succinct, solutions-focused, and designed with the discerning reader in mind.
Monday’s quakes caused no reported damage, but were felt in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Missouri, and Arkansas, The Weather Channel reported.
“The high level of seismic activity, especially in these closely linked swarms, follows a recent trend in fossil fuel-rich Oklahoma in which a dramatic spike in quakes has been tied to wastewater injection wells accompanying proliferating oil and gas drilling operations,” ThinkProgress reports. “In April, The New Yorker published an article on the recent surge in Oklahoma quakes that found that nearly two-dozen peer-reviewed papers have concluded disposal wells and quakes are likely connected.”
ThinkProgress and EcoWatch report that Oklahoma is taking the data seriously, declaring more than 200 new disposal wells “Areas of Interest” and designating them for special review. “Oklahoma experienced 585 magnitude 3+ earthquakes in 2014 compared to 109 events recorded in 2013,” according to the state’s Earthquakes in Oklahoma site. The state’s Coordinating Council on Seismic Activity has “discussed the possibility of reducing injection volumes in the near future, as recommended by recent scientific studies, as a potential next step,” said Energy and Environment Secretary Michael Teague.
“Oklahoma may have surpassed California as the number one state for earthquakes, but it’s not alone in its dramatic increases,” EcoWatch reports. “The U.S. Geological Survey has identified eight other states that have seen more frequent and higher magnitude quakes, as well, including neighbouring New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Arkansas.”
Leave a Reply