Drilling Is Making Oklahoma as Quake Prone as California


NY Times:

Drilling Is Making Oklahoma as Quake Prone as California

Californians have lived with the risk of a damaging earthquake for centuries. Now Oklahomans, and some Kansans, face the same threat, federal seismologists said on Monday.In an assessment released by the United States Geological Survey, experts said the chance of a destructive temblor in the next year is as great in parts of north-central Oklahoma and southern Kansas — where oil-and-gas operations have set off man-made quakes for about five years — as it is in the shakiest parts of quake-prone California.

The warning came in the agency’s map of earthquake risks, a document that for the first time included the prospects for human-caused quakes.
“By including human-induced events, our assessment of earthquake hazards has significantly increased in parts of the U.S.,” Mark Petersen, the chief of the agency’s Natural Seismic Hazard Mapping Project, said in a news release.

Four other states where waste disposal has led to human-induced quakes — Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas — face considerably smaller risks of damaging tremors, the agency said. About seven million people live in the areas at risk of a human-induced earthquake, most of them in Oklahoma and Texas.

Over the last 15 years, those states have experienced an explosion in oil and gas production, which releases huge amounts of toxic wastewater. That wastewater is disposed of by re-injecting it into the ground, into rock formations thousands of feet below the surface, increasing the pressure on existing subterranean faults, and causing them to slip and produce tremors.


So much for the notion that “at least we don’t get earthquakes” that I hear from friends in Texas when we’re discussion state’s typical natural disasters…

Worst part is this is apparently self inflicted. :rolleyes:


I very much doubt it. Does anyone realize the amount of force tectonic plate shifting does beneath the Pacific Ocean?

The idea that narrow-well drilling could cause that much havoc is absurd.

First man-made “climate change” now this nonsense.


We’re not talking massive tectonic plate shifting at the plate margins such as the San Andreas in California. We’re talking about smaller mid plate faults. And the idea it can cause havoc is not absurd. There’s been a growing amount of evidence that earthquake activity in these areas is on the rise in direct correlation to this kind of water injection.


Should I fill in the well in my backyard? Sure, being thirsty will suck, but we must think of the planet.


Your well contains natural percolated groundwater, not artificially high speed pumped water. But on the subject of wells, don’t pump out too much too quickly or nature can’t refill the aquifer fast enough and you’ll end up with subsidence like the California Central Valley saw during the drought. And the danger of that is if you pump out too much and the aquifer collapses… you’re never going to see it refill.


This is no laughing matter, though i suppose the worse that could happen is a sinkhole.


Since the world now has a glut of oil, why are we drilling to the center of the earth again?


Also important to remember is that our building codes were not written with earthquakes in mind. I say we because Ohio has seen the same problem with these injection wells.


I doubt that drilling for oil has any affect on earthquakes. Those wells are not that deep, don’t go down to where the earthquake activity comes from and it is just a coincidence that there have been a few quakes in this oil drilling region.


why are so many earthquakes suddenly happening in Oklahoma then?


It suggests that there are stresses in the earth that are significant and yet below the threshold for shearing. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) changes the structure of the rock, most obviously by the intended fracturing, but perhaps more importantly by adding lots of water.

The water doesn’t just sit there. It can saturate huge volumes of permeable rock and weaken it by dissolving and transporting mineral components. I suspect this allows pre-existing small cracks to extend and merge. The huge volume of water-saturated rock develops a huge number of growing cracks. In other words, the rock becomes crumbly.

Eventually the rock becomes too weak to hold against the stresses which were originally there. The rock shears and you have an earthquake.


My friends in Texas say earthquakes are on the rise there too, in places where they are fracking.


They may not go down to where the plates are, but I imagine pumping out millions of gallons of oil and leaving a large void, would probably have some effects on the geology.

Look at how long mankind has been pumping oil out of the ground, probably trillions upon trillions of gallons have been taken, leaving big empty voids, we may learn this was not such a good idea in the future!


Those people in southern california that live near oil fields and have sink holes have already figured it out.


I definitely believe it is the fracking that has caused so many earthquakes. I grew up in Kansas and earthquakes were extremely rare in the plains states.


There is a rise of Earthquakes in the United Kingdom because of fracking




Maybe. But this might be similar to the “increased number of tornados” where I live. It isn’t really that there are more tornados, it’s that the population and communications have increased so that almost none go unnoticed.


maybe it is “global warming”. :cool:


they have sink holes in California-I thought that was Florida.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.