It's official: Oklahoma now has more earthquakes than anywhere else in the world, according to a spokesman from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), which oversees the Sooner State's oil and gas industry.
Several earthquakes have struck Oklahoma in just these past four days. As Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner said about the state's increased seismic activity, "We've got an earthquake issue." Photo credit:
"We have had 15 [earthquakes] in Medford since 5 o'clock Saturday morning," said spokesman Matt Skinner on Nov. 9, according to the Enid News. “We’ve got an earthquake issue.”
"OCC has developed areas of interest, where earthquake clusters have occurred. A cluster is two earthquakes within a half mile of each other, with one measuring at least magnitude 3.2. Originally, they were three-mile circles, then six-mile circles. The circles grew in number and now encompass a very large area of Oklahoma—about 9,000 square miles in all, [Skinner] said," reported the Enid News.
Scientists have linked this never-ending spate of tremors to the state's drilling boom. The Oklahoma Geological Survey concluded that the injection of wastewater byproducts into deep underground disposal wells from fracking operations has triggered the seismic activity in Oklahoma.
As EcoWatch reported two months ago, Oklahoma went from two earthquakes a year before 2009 to two a day. This year, roughly 700 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or higher has shook the state, compared to 20 in 2009.
The tremors are such a frequent occurrence that the OCC has forced changes to 500 disposal wells around the state, including the shut down of wells around the city of Cushing, which holds one of the largest crude oil storage facilities in the world.
The OCC is requiring well operators to show that water is not being injected below the state's deepest rock formations, which is believed to contribute to the earthquakes.
Incidentally, Oklahoma has about 4,500 disposal wells with about 3,500 still in operation, so these regulations only applied to a small fraction of the wells.