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The Most Earthquake-Prone Region In America Isn’t Where You Think

The Most Earthquake-Prone Region In America Isn’t Where You Think

Image source: Corbis

The most earthquake-prone place on Earth is not California or any nation in the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” but instead Oklahoma.

The Sooner State now has more earthquakes than places surrounding the San Andreas Fault and even Japan, state officials say.

“Oklahoma is absolutely unique in terms of the number of earthquakes we’ve had,” Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), told members of the Rotary Club in Enid, Oklahoma.

The Commission is the body that regulates oil and gas drilling in the state.

“We have had 15 (earthquakes) in Medford since 5 o’clock Saturday morning,” Skinner said during a speech on Wednesday, November 11. “We’ve got an earthquake issue.”

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) blames the fracking for oil and gas for the quakes. One week after Skinner’s remarks, Oklahoma and Kansas were struck by a 4.7 magnitude earthquake, which was felt as far away as Tucson, Arizona, The Christian Science Monitor reported. No major damage was reported, although a 5.0 quake could cause significant damage, Skinner said.

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Jim Palmer, the OCC’s director of public information, told the The Enid News that the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma has been on the rise in recent years.

“In North America, Oklahoma is very unique and unique in the world, in the sense that it’s concentrated so much in just one area,” Palmer said.

Said Skinner, “This is an Oklahoma issue that is an earthquake issue. It is nothing more and it’s nothing less. For us, it’s an oil and gas issue as well, because that’s what we have jurisdiction over that the seismologists say pertains to earthquakes.”

A USGS press release from March said the disposal of “wastewater by deep injection” – fracking – “occasionally results in earthquakes that are large enough to be felt, and sometimes damaging.”

“Deep injection of wastewater is the primary cause of the dramatic rise in detected earthquakes and the corresponding increase in seismic hazard in the central U.S,” it concluded.

The USGS revealed that Oklahoma had 567 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or higher in 2014. Just two years earlier in 2012 the state suffered only around 40 quakes a year.

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(Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s in-depth report on fracking and earthquakes here.)

4.7 Magnitude Quake

A TV station reported that the 4.7 quake was centered near Cherokee, 20 miles south of the Kansas state line. The region affected by the quake includes the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant.

There were at least four earthquakes in Oklahoma on the same day, News 9 reported. The quakes were reported around Norman, Enid and Oklahoma City.

Subsequently, the OCC said it would require the ending of operations of two oil and gas wastewater disposal wells in the Cherokee area.

Earthquakes have now become so common in Oklahoma that TV meteorologists now give reports on them with the nightly news, The New Yorker reported. Despite the numbers, seismologists know little about earthquakes and fracking.

“All we have is data,” Skinner admitted. “In terms of this phenomenon, very little is really known.”

Incredibly, the earthquake scared large flocks of birds so much that their flight patterns could be seen on radar.

Do you believe fracking eventually will cause a major earthquake that does significant damage? Or do you think fracking doesn’t pose a problem? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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