A record-breaking 5.6 magnitude earthquake shook Oklahoma Saturday.
Remember, remember, the fifth of November
As preparations were made for daylight savings time in Oklahoma, the clocks weren’t the only things that fell back. This was due to a record-breaking 5.6-magnitude earthquake, which occurred Saturday.
Geologists believe the 4.7-magnitude earthquake, which hit early Saturday morning, was a foreshock for the record-breaker that occurred later that night.
Oklahoma is not the only state experiencing an increase in earthquake activity; some Arkansas residents have blamed their state’s sudden spike in seismic shudders on injection wells.
What the Frack?
Natural gas companies use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to break apart shale and rock using fluid, in order to release natural gas. Injection wells then dispose of the fluid by injecting it back into the ground.
According to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), which oversees Oklahoma’s oil and gas production, there are 181 injection wells in the Oklahoma county where most of the weekend earthquakes occurred.
Natural gas companies claim there is no proof of a connection between injection wells and earthquakes, and a study released earlier this year by Austin Holland, Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologist, seems to back that up. Holland said most of Oklahoma’s seismic activity didn’t appear to be tied to the wells, although more investigation was needed.
Eric Johnson, professor of geosciences, discussed with his students what causes earthquakes to occur.
Johnson said that while fracking could result in minor seismic activity, it is unlikely that fracking would be capable of generating the long-term geological pressure needed to induce the recent earthquakes.
“At this point, it is more likely to suspect the earthquakes were caused by natural shifts in the Earth’s crust,” Johnson said.
Flights of Frenzy
Steve Carano, professor of earth and physical sciences, said the earthquake caused birds and insects to take flight en mass, creating changes in air patterns strong enough to register on radar used to track weather patterns.