Oklahoma Earthquakes

A paper published in Science Magazine on Feb. 19. reports in no uncertain terms that fluid-injection is one of the direct causes of increased earthquake activity.

The paper titled “Coping with earthquakes induced by fluid injection” is the result of a comprehensive study done by seven different agencies based in Oklahoma, Colorado and California.

The paper states clearly in its introduction that fluid-injection is the confirmed culprit.

“To a large extent, the increasing rate of earthquakes in the mid-continent is due to fluid-injection activities used in modern energy production.”

The United States Geological Survey published a press release saying that this paper argued for increased transparency and data collection so that strategies for dealing with the situation can be compiled.

“The science of induced earthquakes is ready for application, and a main goal of our study was to motivate more cooperation among the stakeholders — including the energy resources industry, government agencies, the earth science community, and the public at large — for the common purpose of reducing the consequences of earthquakes induced by fluid injection,” said coauthor Dr. William Ellsworth, a USGS geophysicist.

The lead author of the study, USGS geophysicist Dr. Art McGarr, said that these findings and increased information can help slow or perhaps stop the increased earthquake activity.  

“In contrast to natural earthquake hazard, over which humans have no control, the hazard from induced seismicity can be reduced.  

“Improved seismic networks and public access to fluid injection data will allow us to detect induced earthquake problems at an early stage, when seismic events are typically very small, so as to avoid larger and potentially more damaging earthquakes later on.”

The full paper can be found at www.sciencemag.org. The authors of this study come from these organizations:

n  USGS, Earthquake Science Center, Menlo Park, California.

n USGS, National Water Quality Assessment Program, Menlo Park.

n USGS, Powell Center, Fort Collins, Colorado.

n USGS, Geologic Hazards Center, Golden, Colorado.

n University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado.

n Oklahoma Geological Survey, Norman.

n Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California.

In the wake of the increased earthquake activity more than 2,500 property insurance agents, customer service representatives and adjusters have completed a continuing education course on earthquake insurance.

For information on earthquake insurance contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department at 1-800-522-0071 or visit our website at www.oid.ok.gov.

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