Frack-happy Oklahoma rocked by 20 earthquakes in just one day

The state's dramatic increase in seismic activity is linked to oil and gas operations

Published August 20, 2014 6:55PM (EDT)

    (Tom Wang/Shutterstock)
(Tom Wang/Shutterstock)

Even judging by the state's new standards for seismic activity (we're calling it "the new California"), Tuesday was a dramatic day for Oklahoma. The state Geological Survey recorded 20 earthquakes in as many hours. If seven quakes in two days are considered a "swarm," then what the frack do we call this?

Most were tiny, probably even imperceptible, although people definitely felt the largest one, which registered at a 4.3 magnitude. Four of the quakes recorded today add to the growing total of tremors that register as a 3.0 magnitude or higher, the number of which has spiked since -- not at all coincidentally --  fracking activity began to proliferate in the state.

Specifically, it's wastewater injection wells (in which waste from fracking operations is injected, forcibly, into the ground) that we have to worry about. A study released last month established that the two are connected -- what's more, the researchers found that just four wells were responsible for 20 percent of the earthquakes recorded between 2008 and 2013. That's over 100 of them.

ClimateProgress highlights these charts from a recent Oklahoma Geology Survey presentation, which show how the general rise in seismic activity is quickly becoming the state's new reality. “No documented cases of induced seismicity," it asserts, "have ever come close to the current earthquake rates or the area over which the earthquakes are occurring":

By Lindsay Abrams

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Earthquakes Fracking Frackquakes Oklahoma Wastewater Injection