Officials investigating earthquake cluster in northwest Oklahoma

COVINGTON, Okla. - A cluster of earthquakes in the northwest part of the state is leaving residents wondering what caused the sudden spike, especially when they say there seemed to be a lull in the shaking.

“I haven’t remembered feeling too many, you know, but yeah here the last little bit, it seems like they’ve picked back up,” said David Perrin.

“I thought maybe they [were] over because it had been awhile and then all of a sudden, I said, 'Oops, here they are again,'” said Martha Olmstead.

Perrin and Olmstead live between Covington and Perry where a cluster of seven earthquakes have been recorded in the last three days, the largest one registering a 3.8 magnitude.

There was no damage reported but the Olmsteads had to pick up everything that fell off their garage shelves.

“My tools come off the wall over there and things just kind of reshuffle. Gives me a chance to reinventory everything I’ve got,” chuckled Buell Olmstead.

“We know the lull is over. We know that the short honeymoon is over and we’re back into earthquakes,” said Bob Jackman, a geologist who believes the recent earthquake cluster can be blamed on injection wells.

He says oil and gas companies injected less during the legislative session and now that it’s over, they’re back at it.

“All of a sudden as soon as the legislative session was over, here came the big high volume disposal wells being turned on again and instantly, what Tuesday, Wednesday, we just had a spike in them,” said Jackman.

But the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association says that is not the case. The group sent us the following statement:

“These claims are not factual and are intended to incite rather than provide any intelligent thought to resolving seismicity issues. By the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s own data, wells within a 20 mile radius of the Perry swarm showed cumulative injection rates between 100,000 and 142,000 bbl/day throughout the legislative session. Suggesting otherwise is careless and not founded in reason.”

“We gotta have the petroleum you know so in my books, we gotta find a happy medium,” said Perrin.

Residents in the area say the little bit of shaking is not bothering them right now.

They’re just hoping they don’t see a big one.

The spokesperson for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission says this earthquake cluster happened in an area where there are already extra regulations on injection wells.

They are working with the Oklahoma Geological Survey to investigate the recent quakes and see if anything more needs to be done.