Oklahoma Earthquake Swarm 2015: In Sharp Turnaround, Oklahoma Officials Confirm The Link Between Fracking Wastewater And Earthquakes

 

Oklahoma shaken by 40 earthquakes in one week, fracking waste blamed

oklahomaAn astounding 40 earthquakes were reported within the period of a week in Oklahoma in late July. State Gov. Mary Fallin acknowledged the link between such earthquake clusters and wastewater disposal procedures used in fracking operations.

In 2013, Oklahoma experienced 109 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or higher. In 2014, the number skyrocketed to 585 such seismic events, according to state website Earthquakes in Oklahoma. This puts the current rate at some 600 times the historical average.

A particularly intense bout of seismic activity occurred during a seven day period in late July, when 40 earthquakes with a magnitude of at least 2.5 were reported in Oklahoma, according to The Weather Channel.

“We are almost seven months through the year and we’ve almost tied the number of earthquakes we had in 2014. And of course, 2014 was an absolute record-breaking year for the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma,” state seismologist Austin read more

Officials Confirm The Link Between Fracking Wastewater And Earthquakes

Oklahoma’s government confirmed this week that hundreds of earthquakes rocking the state are largely caused by oil and gas operations. The position marks a sharp turnaround for state officials, who for years expressed skepticism that Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm could be linked to the rampant underground disposal of wastewater from oil and gas wells.

The state’s energy and environment office on Tuesday launched a website, called Earthquakes in Oklahoma, which embraces the scientific consensus that injecting billions of gallons of wastewater near fault zones is triggering temblors in areas with little history of seismic activity. Until this week, officials had maintained that the spike in earthquakes was probably a natural phenomenon.

Oklahoma experienced 585 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater last year — up from just 103 temblors of that size in 2013, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey. Before 2008, when oil and gas drilling accelerated in Oklahoma, the state experienced only about two magnitude 3.0 earthquakes each year.

“While we understand that Oklahoma has historically experienced some level of seismicity, we know that the recent rise in earthquakes cannot be entirely attributed to natural causes,” the new state website says. “The Oklahoma Geological Survey has determined that the majority of recent earthquakes in central and north-central Oklahoma are very likely triggered by the injection of produced water [i.e., wastewater] in disposal wells.”

In the 1980s, Oklahoma experienced fewer than two magnitude 3.0 earthquakes (orange) on average each year. In this map, wastewater disposal wells (purple) are shown at current levels.

Oklahoma experienced 585 earthquakes (orange) of magnitude 3.0 or greater in 2014, up from 103 earthquakes the previous year read more