What is causing the swarm of earthquakes?
UPDATE 6:30 p.m. – Another Earthquake struck near Spencer Oklahoma with a 3.4 magnitude, according to USGS.
There have been several earthquakes recorded near Spencer, Edmond and Jones. But, What’s causing them?
OKLAHOMA CITY – After dozens of earthquakes were reported across the Sooner State, experts are trying to figure out a reason behind the activity.
A new report from the Mewbourne College of Earth & Energy shows that earthquakes were pretty consistent when they were recorded near Arcadia Lake from 2011 through October 2013.
However, that changed this month.
In November 2013, a significant number of 3.0-magnitude or greater earthquakes were reported and were felt across northwest Oklahoma City and Edmond.
The sudden spike in activity has a lot of people wondering about the cause behind the quakes.
Researchers say it is possible that the recent jump in seismic activity is just an extension of the earthquake swarm that consistently strikes the Jones area.
Experts say earthquakes are caused by the natural pressure on fault lines and fluid movement through the soil.
However, human activity can affect how often earthquakes occur.
Some of those activities include mining and oil production, fluid injection, geothermal production and thermal contraction.
According to Austin Holland with the Oklahoma Geological Survey, hydraulic fracturing is associated with a low risk for earthquakes, since experts say the maximum magnitude observed from quakes linked to fracturing is 3.1 to 3.4.
Hydraulic fracturing is a process that breaks apart rocks by pushing pressurized liquid into the soil.
Induced hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is used to get oil and brine water into a well by pushing water and chemicals into the ground.
Crews will then immediately remove the water after the process is complete, which usually spans hours to days.
Experts have linked hydraulic fracturing to approximately 100 earthquakes in Oklahoma in recent months.
While that seems like a large number, Holland says water disposal is actually a bigger threat to cause quakes across the state.
Water disposal occurs when crews are trying to get rid of the excess water that is pulled out from oil production.
Crews will push the water deep into the Earth and leave it.
Holland claims water disposal is linked to earthquakes that registered a magnitude of 5.3 to 5.7.
Some of those have even caused damage.
Experts have linked nearly 1,800 earthquakes in the Jones area to water disposal.
However, that can be a difficult process since the span between water injection and a quake may be decades.
Earthquakes generally occur first near the well and migrate away from the well with time.
Holland claims that it is possible some earthquakes may be induced by wells but better scientific studies need to be done to determine whether or not the quakes are caused by nature or induction.
For more information, visit the OGS website.
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