Experts says Oklahoma earthquakes too powerful to be man-made

November 9, 2011 – OKLAHOMA Thousands of times every day, drilling deep underground causes the earth to tremble. But don’t blame the surprise flurry of earthquakes in Oklahoma on man’s thirst for oil and gas, experts say. The weekend quakes were far stronger than the puny tremors from drilling – especially the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing. The weekend quakes didn’t have the mark of man. They were a force of nature. Hydraulic fracturing, called fracking, involves injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to break up rock. While that may sound like it could cause an earthquake, experts say the process doesn’t pack nearly the punch of even a moderate earthquake. The magnitude- 5.6 quake that rocked Oklahoma three miles underground had the power of 3,800 tons of TNT, which is nearly 2,000 times stronger than the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The typical energy released in tremors triggered by fracking, “is the equivalent to a gallon of milk falling off the kitchen counter,” said Stanford University geophysicist Mark Zoback. In Oklahoma, home to 185,000 drilling wells and hundreds of injection wells, the question of man-made seismic activity comes up quickly. But so far, federal, state and academic experts say readings show that the Oklahoma quakes were natural, following the lines of a long-known fault. “There’s a fault there,” said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle. “You can have an earthquake that size anywhere east of the Rockies. You don’t need a huge fault to produce an earthquake that big. It’s uncommon, but not unexpected.” But there’s a reason people ask if the quakes are man-made rather than from the shifting of the Earth’s crusts. In the past, earthquakes have been linked to energy exploration and production, including from injections of enormous amounts of drilling wastewater or injections of water for geothermal power, experts said. They point to recent earthquakes in the magnitude 3 and 4 range – not big enough to cause much damage, but big enough to be felt – in Arkansas, Texas, California, England, Germany and Switzerland. And back in the 1960s, two Denver quakes in the 5.0 range were traced to deep injection of wastewater. Still, scientists would like to know if human activity can trigger a larger event. The National Academy of Sciences is studying the seismic effects of energy drilling and mining and will issue a report next spring. “This is an area of active research,” said Rowena Lohman, a Cornell University seismologist. “We’re all concerned about this.” –The Weather Channel
contribution by Mukesh Kumar
This entry was posted in Earth Changes, Earth Watch, High-risk potential hazard zone, Land fissures, cracks, sinkholes, Seismic tremors. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Experts says Oklahoma earthquakes too powerful to be man-made

  1. NickK0 says:

    I have had doubts that ‘fracking’ was responsible for this, based upon what I have read in the media.
    So this does not surprise me.

    The recent (timely) discovery of a potentially dangerous fault in neighboring AR., makes one wonder, what other hazards lurk undiscovered ( or may be *developing*), in OK.

    – Nick


    • cossack55 says:

      I knew that whole “cause and effect” concept was a silly notion. Next thing ya know they will be saying unicorns don’t exist. I say we destroy the entire planet for cheap gas.
      Now THAT is a worthwhile goal.


  2. JerseyCynic says:

    Alvin, this approaching full moon is making me nervous

    hopefully no disruption from 1339 — looks like it’s facing us today. I told the kids to take the atlas for their road trip (I hid the GPS on them!)


  3. K80 says:

    Great post Alvin, this should show everyone that is something much greater than Oil and Gas exploration causing these earthquakes.


  4. JerseyCynic says:

    site is loading fine now (global incident map site was also not loading properly. ok now also)
    2.5 in tennessee


  5. NickK0 says:

    More information here :

    – Nick


    • I think it is amazing (not) that humankind will not accept any responsibility for earth changes…. specifically those where it is positively seen (such as with fracking etc) that we can be interfering with the natural rythms of the planet. Another one that puzzles me – as it were – that we cannot see we are causing our own future problems is with GMO’s and the other one – the release this week of modified mosquito’s. Seems in most cases where it is not genuinely philanthropic – it is all about making more money….. In Bible terms I think it is called avarice and greed.


      • nickk0 says:

        JustMe, I very much agree with you.
        This does not eliminate Mankind’s responsibility, for his own foolish and stooopid, short-sighted actions. (read: looking at the next quarterly profit, not beyond that.)

        But, on top of Mankind’s ‘concern’ with the Next Quarterly Profit, is something else to be concerned about:
        Some parts of the Earth ( which *were* formerly considered ‘stable’), might no longer be that way, due to tectonic and geologic changes.
        This may wreak havoc, with the Next Quarterly Profit expectations. What an Irony.

        – Nick


  6. JerseyCynic says:

    ever since I read this piece Alvin –

    and because my perfectly content house cats have been trying to bolt out the front door this week.


  7. U.S. Government Confirms Link Between Earthquakes and Hydraulic Fracturing

    may be worth a read as there are some interested statements here.


  8. kristoffer94 says:

    I think that a new tectonic plate is going to be formed, if this continues. If this continues, USA will be splitted, that’s what I think will happen.


  9. Joshua says:

    About an hour ago I heard a report which came from a OK state worker that they are watching a large sinkhole open up near / on the location of the quakes and state officials are concerned because they are reading temperature increases from the sinkhole. They do not yet know what is causing such a heatup in the sinkhole and so they are keeping it classified until they have more information. No public safety alerts have been issued at this time. I have not been able to find independent confirmation of this.


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