Thursday, October 22, 2015

Study suggests Oklahoma has had earthquakes linked to oil and gas industry since 1920s

An Oklahoma study on seismic activity and the oil gas industry suggests that most of the significant earthquakes recorded in the state since the 1920s "were likely triggered by drilling activity," Joe Wertz reports for StateImpact. Susan Hough, a U.S. Geological Survey seismologist who co-authored the peer-reviewed paper published on Tuesday in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, told Wertz, “There’s a very, very, very small chance that it was just a fluke that these earthquakes happened to pop off where these wells were going in." (The Nation graphic)

Researchers say data suggests that "two high-profile Oklahoma earthquakes in the 1950s likely were induced: the 5.7-magnitude El Reno temblor that toppled chimneys and smokestacks and left a 50-foot crack in the state Capitol in 1952 and a 3.9-magnitude quake that shook Tulsa County in 1956," Wertz writes. Hough told Wertz, "All but one of the earthquakes recorded that decade were located 'close to an injection well that was permitted prior to the earthquakes.'"

"While the study suggests oil and gas-linked shaking is nothing new, Hough says the intensity of the recent earthquake boom, which started in 2009, far surpasses any seismic activity recorded before in Oklahoma," Wertz writes. She told him, “They’re not some new boogeyman that’s emerged since 2009. Things have ramped up. These earthquakes might not be new, but the rate and hazard has certainly increased.” (Read more)

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