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.
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.
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.
Read the following articles to help educate and prepare you.