Man-Made Earthquakes Puts Oklahoma at Risk

Map of Chance of Earthquake

People in Oklahoma and Kansas have been increasingly feeling more and more earthquakes the past few years. Why is that? The reason is that the oil and gas industry has been significantly ramping up production in the area over the past decade and the wastewater disposal process causes instability in the ground. To release the oil trapped deep in the earth they inject a mass amount of water into the ground which helps shatter subsurface shale. This is called hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Unfortunately this creates a lot of waste water which they dispose of by pumping it into deep wells. The resulting fluid pressure in fault zones can and have been causing earthquakes in the area.

Map of Chance of Earthquake

Courtesy of USGS

A scary fact is that back in 2007 Oklahoma experienced only 1 earthquake. Last year it experienced almost 900 3-plus magnitude earthquakes! This lead the U.S. Geological Survey to publish an earthquake hazard map covering both natural and “induced” earthquakes for the first time a couple of days ago (see above picture).

The chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project, Mark Peterson said “By including human-induced events, our assessment of earthquake hazards has significantly increased in parts of the U.S.”. The most significant hazards from induced seismicity are in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas as seen in the picture below. This results in up to 7 million people that may be affected by earthquakes caused by human activity.

Sesimicity 1980 - 2015

Courtesy of USGS

This new map which now includes “induced” earthquakes increases the risk in certain areas where in previous maps it showed relatively low risk. Heather R. DeShon, a seismologist at Southern Methodist University said “The new map serves as a reminder to the local populations living with the recent earthquakes that it is best to be prepared to feel ground shaking”. The dark area in Oklahoma shows just how much earthquake potential it has as there was already a magnitude 5.1 earthquake this year in the area and a magnitude 4.2 earthquake in Logan County just a few days ago.

With more and more earthquakes occurring year after year, it is best to be prepared for an earthquake and stay safe.

Do you live in the Oklahoma area? What do you think of this? Post your comments below and share your thoughts.


Are you prepared? Do you have an earthquake kit? Do you know what to do when an earthquake hits? Have you heard the phrase “DROP! COVER! HOLD!”?

Read the following articles to help educate and prepare you.

Preparing for an Earthquake

Best Earthquake Kit Review – Top 3 for Your Family of 4


  1. Bernd

    I have heard that the fracking industry is not without any risks, but what you show here is amazing. What an increase in earthquakes. They are detroying their own country. Do the authorities do anything or we have just to do it at our own? For heavens sake, you provide some useful tips.

    1. Andy (Post author)

      Yeah it’s pretty bad. Don’t think there are any federal regulations but there are some state regulations in place but it doesn’t do much. Oklahoma in particular doesn’t seem to do much when it comes to regulating wastewater injection. It’s only recently that this is getting more attention as seismic activity steadily increases which compelled state officials to implement some controls on injection wells. Unfortunately I don’t see this problem going away any time soon.

  2. Roger

    Andy & Bernd,

    I’m with you guys! I mean, I’ve heard some negative things about fracking, but EARTHQUAKES? What would have to happen to make you think, “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea”?

    The increase in “human-induced” earthquakes is alarming. I certainly hope there is action taken to reduce such risks for the future.

    I had friends who decided to leave California after the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco. I sure hope they didn’t move to a place where fracking has induced man-made quakes!

    Thanks for informing us of these startling facts.

    Stay safe!


    1. Andy (Post author)

      Yeah it’s pretty scary to think that these are human induced. Hopefully now that even the USGS takes notice that governments will not only add stricter laws around fracking but actually enforce them. People have been complaining for years with not much action because there was no solid proof. They better take action now or it’s gonna get worse.


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