Environmental Protection

Since October 2013, the rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma has increased by 50 percent, a staggering statistic that could result in large, devastating earthquakes in the not-too-distant future.

Increase of Oklahoma Tremors Could Lead to Large Earthquakes

Since October 2013, the rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma has increased by 50 percent, a staggering statistic that could result in large, devastating earthquakes in the not-too-distant future.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey and Oklahoma Geological Survey, there have been more than 180 earthquakes with a 3.0 magnitude or greater have occurred in Oklahoma just from October 2013 through April 14, 2014. With such a larger increase in tremors, the possibility of damaging earthquakes has also increased for central and north-central Oklahoma.

The report indicates that the increase in tremors is likely due to wastewater disposal that is injected into deep geological formations, which increases underground pressures and faults – a direct cause of earthquakes.

“We hope that this new advisory of increased hazard will become a crucial consideration in earthquake preparedness for residents, schools and businesses in the central Oklahoma area,” said Dr. Bill Leith, USGS senior science advisor for earthquakes and geologic hazards. “Building owners and government officials should have a special concern for older, unreinforced brick structures, which are vulnerable to serious damage during sufficient shaking.”

Oklahoma has been experiencing more earthquakes since 2009, which includes the largest in history for the state – a magnitude 5.6 earthquake that occurred in November 2011. The Oklahoma Geological Survey has expanded their seismic monitoring to 15 permanent stations and 17 temporary stations in order to better track earthquake activity in central Oklahoma.

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