In a rare announcement for the Midwest, the US Geological Service recently issued a warning to residents in Oklahoma saying that a damaging earthquake on the scale of 5.0 or higher could be imminent. Earthquakes in the area have jumped about 50% since October. In fact, this year Oklahoma has seen almost as many earthquakes as California has, with tremors of a comparable intensity.
The backdrop to the story is fracking. Though the oil and gas industry is loath to admit it, it’s well know that fracking – which involves pumping water and chemicals at high pressures deep underground in order to break apart rock deep under the earth – can create earthquakes. These earthquakes are usually small; typically no more than a 3 or 4 on the Richter scale. The problem is, nobody knows what effect this might have on larger fault lines, including normally inactive ones in the Midwest.
Alarmed by what they are seeing and frustrated with the industry’s callousness to these concerns, the USGS is breaking it’s silence. We’ll just have to wait and see if these fears come to fruition.
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