Earthquake capitol California has been usurped as the national leader in quakes by an unusual region. According to reports by Seismologists, the state of Oklahoma has overtaken California as the leading quake trembler of the United States. The strange part of this is that just five years ago the Sooner state was nowhere near the tremor leader boards. Since 2009, Oklahoma has surged into the top spot. Oklahoma even ranks above the National leader Alaska.
According to the Advanced National Seismic System global catalog, Oklahoma had recorded more than three times the amount of earthquakes than California. Recent geological data surveys show that Oklahoma had 562 earthquakes of a 3.0 magnitude or greater in 2014. By comparison California had 180 earthquakes in 2014. As of January 31 Oklahoma had 76 recorded quakes of that magnitude, while California had only ten.
There were several small quakes recorded that hit the northeastern part of Oklahoma just this week alone. A 4.2 shockwave hit Cherokee on Thursday morning. The epicenter was registered five miles Northeast of Cherokee, and 35 miles Northwest of Enid. There was a 3.8 magnitude quake that struck five miles East-Southeast of Helena earlier that morning. It was registered 3.7 miles deep in impact. There were several smaller quakes that hit near Cherokee on Wednesday as well.
Oklahoma is no stranger to earthquakes however. The state and region have a long and established history of tremblers. The first recorded quake was the 1918 shaker that was centered at an intensity of five near El Reno. There was a magnitude 5.2 quake that shook the center of El Reno on April 9, 1952. The shaking scared people, and shattered glass in the business district, according to reports. No damage was done, but parts of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Arkansas felt the shaking.
Four more quakes were felt during the 1950s, which included one in 1953, three in 1956, and one in 1959. There was a 4.6 magnitude trembler that shook the Eastern part of Oklahoma in 1968. However the biggest quake in Oklahoma history occurred in November of 2011.
That one registered as a 5.6 on the Richter scale and struck the Lincoln County area of Oklahoma. The shaker was centered 34 miles North Northeast of Shawnee, 63 miles South Southeast of Stillwater, and 71 miles East Northeast of Oklahoma City. Oklahoma is not the only state to see risings in seismic activity. Ohio, Colorado, Texas and Kansas have all seen increases in their seismic activity. Seismic experts believe the causes for the increased activity in Oklahoma are due to a lot of the oil drilling within the state. That is looking like the main reason why the earthquake capitol California has been usurped as the national leader by Oklahoma State.
Studies indicate the increased oil drilling is the major cause of all of these recent quakes in the region. Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” of these oil wells is the primary problem. However, it is not just the drilling itself, or the hydraulic fracturing.
Apparently large underground wastewater ditches form because of the oil-extraction techniques. This also contributes to the recent trend of these tremblers. It seems strange for California to not be the leader in earthquakes these days, even though Oklahoma has had a deep history of earthquakes. It does appear that the earthquake capitol California will indeed be usurped as the top quake state by Oklahoma in 2015 if the oil drilling continues.
By Scott Andes