Damage to Benedictine Hall at St. Gregory's University in Shawnee, Okla. on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011.
Damage to Benedictine Hall at St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Okla. on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011.

USGS reports that Oklahoma is now the second most-active state seismically, behind California. What?!?!?

USGS has reported that the rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma has increased by about 50 percent since October 2013, significantly increasing the chance for a damaging quake in the central part of the state. USGS reported that 183 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater occurred from October 2013 through April 14.

Curious about the state’s earthquake history? Good question! This compares with an average of only two magnitude 3.0 or larger earthquakes per year from 1978 to 2008. That is 181 more earthquakes in just six months. Wow!

The agency stated that…”As a result of the increased number of small and moderate shocks, the likelihood of future, damaging earthquakes has increased for central and north-central Oklahoma.”

The agencies’ statement indicates that a likely factor in the increase in earthquakes is wastewater injection. Really?

Man-made EarthquakesThe report goes on to state that “The water injection can increase underground pressures, lubricate faults and cause earthquakes — a process known as injection-induced seismicity. Much of this wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production and is routinely disposed of by injection into wells specifically designed and approved for this purpose.” The recent earthquake rate changes are not due to typical, random fluctuations in natural seismicity rates.”

A study published in March in the Journal of Geophysical Research suggested that the sharpest earthquake to strike Oklahoma, a magnitude 5.7 quake centered near Prague, may have been triggered in part by wastewater injection — which if true, would make the 2011 temblor the strongest ever linked to disposal practices within the oil and gas industry. The quake caused at least $4.5 million in damages, including knocking over four spires at a university 17 miles away and shaking a college football stadium that moments earlier had held more than 57,000 fans. Fourteen homes suffered significant damage and two people near the epicenter suffered minor injuries.