Oklahoma named at highest risk of human-induced earthquakes

This map from the U.S. Geological Survey displays 21 areas where scientists have observed rapid changes in seismicity that have been associated with wastewater injection. The map also shows earthquakes—both natural and induced—recorded from 1980 to 2015 in the central and eastern U.S. with a magnitude greater than or equal to 2.5. Image from USGS

Hydraulic fracturing has put Oklahoma at the top of a list of states with the highest risk of human-induced earthquakes in 2016.

A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey said the north-central and northwestern parts of the state face the most risk. Those areas are hotbeds of fracking activity and officials say they are already taking action to address the threat.

“Oklahoma remains committed to doing whatever is necessary to reduce seismicity in the state. The report supports the actions that we are taking,” Gov. Mary Fallin (R) said in a press release.

The state has experienced 1,010 earthquakes greater than 3.0 magnitude in 2015 and 226 so far this year, The Oklahoman reported. Those numbers have been rising since 2012, the paper said.

Native Americans represent 9.0 percent of the population in Oklahoma, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That's the second-highest proportion in the Lower 48.

The highest proportion is found in New Mexico, where 10.4 percent of the population is Native American, according to the Census Bureau. The state ranks fifth on the USGS list.

“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 USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project, said in a press release. “This research also shows that much more of the nation faces a significant chance of having damaging earthquakes over the next year, whether natural or human-induced.”

Get the Story:
Oklahoma among highest earthquake risk, according to USGS report (The Oklahoman 3/29)
Drilling Is Making Oklahoma as Quake Prone as California (The New York Times 3/29)
Feds: Risk of 2016 quake increases, especially in Oklahoma (AP 3/28)
7 million Americans at risk of man-made earthquakes, USGS says (The Washington Post 3/28)

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