Drilling makes Oklahoma as earthquake-susceptible as California
Drilling for oil and fuel has made elements of Oklahoma and Kansas as more likely to be hit by main earthquakes as California. A brand new United States Geological Survey (USGS) hazard map exhibits that the danger of a “damaging” quake inside the subsequent yr is now as excessive in north Oklahoma — 10-12 % — as anyplace else within the US.
The revelation comes from the USGS altering the best way it forecasts earthquakes within the nation. Up to now, its hazard maps solely highlighted pure dangers, which means solely California and small elements of Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Washington and Wyoming have been mapped. Now, it elements in “induced earthquakes” triggered by human exercise, with the first trigger being wastewater disposal from oil and fuel manufacturing. This tainted liquid is injected into deep underground wells, which may result in a rise in strain that negatively impacts the seismic stability of an space.
Based mostly on the dangers posed by wastewater, a lot of Oklahoma is now highlighted, whereas smaller sections of Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, Texas, and Tennessee additionally carry a warning. It ought to be famous that the majority states have at most a 5-% or much less probability of injury. Solely Oklahoma and a tiny space in southern Kansas are at greater danger.
Removed from being alarmist, the USGS’ evaluation is usually based mostly on one- and two-yr earthquake knowledge from the above states. Final yr, 907 quakes of magnitude three and above hit Oklahoma. 106 have been recorded this yr, with three measuring round magnitude 5, which ranks among the many largest within the state’s historical past. It is now third solely to California and Alaska in earthquake frequency.
The USGS says additional knowledge on each induced and pure earthquakes is required to enhance its hazard fashions. It additionally notes that its methodology for mapping the western states solely elements in pure dangers, and suggests it ought to increase its induced quake knowledge to cowl states like California. Nevertheless, it isn’t easy to find out the explanations for tremors in areas with naturally excessive seismic exercise, and extra analysis is required.