Earthquakes Shake Oklahoma

Earthquakes

Earthquakes shook Oklahoma on both Saturday and Sunday with seven earthquakes occurring during both days. The largest of the earthquakes measured 4.3 on the Richter scale and occurred near Langston. No injuries were reported, however.

Other earthquakes in Oklahoma measured between 2.0 to 3.2 on Saturday morning, and between 2.6 to 2.9 on Sunday. The swarm of earthquakes is unusual for the state which normally does not have so much shaking.

Earthquakes shook Oklahoma, including in areas near Guthrie and Edmond, and occurred at a shallow depth of only five miles, or less. The quakes were reported to be strong enough to knock down dishes and even create cracks in foundations, but no real damages occurred in buildings.

According to CNN, Oklahoma has had more earthquakes than has occurred in California. For years, Oklahoma only averaged around two earthquakes per year. CNN reports that since June of 2014, the number of earthquakes occurring has been 207, according to the USGS.

The increase of the tremors began in 2009 when there were 20 earthquakes. The next year 43 earthquakes had taken place, and the number of earthquakes escalated from there.

Because there is controversy over the number of earthquakes occurring in the state, the Oklahoma Geological Survey has increased the number of monitoring stations to 17 permanent stations and 15 temporary ones.

According to a report on the Huffington Post website, residents are inquiring if the increase in earthquakes is due to “fracking,” or drilling taking place for oil and gas acquisition. Because waste-water associated with the drilling has been known to saturate bedrock in wells built for fracking purposes, fault lines can lose strength and possibly slip.

Residents had attended a meeting with state regulators and research geologists in Edmond to find out if these procedures are the cause of increased frequency in earthquakes, the Huffington Post report stated. Officials are trying to work with both concerned residents, and the oil and gas industry to determine the exact cause.

Although earthquakes are shaking Oklahoma, other earthquakes are shaking the country of Chile. According to Agence French Presse (AFP) an earthquake occurred in Santiago, Chile on July 13 measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale. No damages or injuries were immediately reported, and the depth of the earthquake was 22 miles.

The earthquake took place near the coast not to far from Iquique where a previous 8.1 earthquake occurred in April and killed six people. Millions of people had been forced to abandon their homes at that time, according to AFP.

Santiago, Chile is located on top of a subduction zone in the Pacific Ring of Fire and is known to have mega earthquakes. The most recent mega earthquake occurred in 2010 and measured 8.8 on the Richter scale. It also took place at a subduction zone area, and displaced about 2 million people.

Although mega earthquakes are known to take place near the coastline of Chile since most of the region sits atop of a subduction zone, earthquakes shaking Oklahoma have been rare until recently. In order to find out why the increase in frequency has occurred, geologists will have to compare historic seismic activity with that of fracking methods and data, and decide if waste-water is to blame.

By Liz Pimentel

Sources:
CNN (Oklahoma)
Huff Post
AFP
CNN (Chile)

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