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New map blames spike in earthquakes on oil and gas industry

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The number and amount of damage caused by earthquakes in our state has skyrocketed.

Since 2010, Oklahoma has jumped to number two in the nation for the state with the most earthquakes, second only to California.

Scientists say there's a possibility that earthquake damage could become widespread.

Austin Holland, a researcher for the Oklahoma Geological Survey, says, “Usually, we get these swarm of earthquakes in the last few years and then they’ll start to die off and ours have not died off.”

When seismic activity dramatically increases, Holland and the Oklahoma Geological Survey work to find a cause behind the spike.

Now, some say the oil and gas industry might be to blame.

According to an article published by EnergyWire, scientists are trying to link earthquakes to drilling wastewater disposal wells and Oklahoma is at the center of the study.

While there's a natural earthquake hazards map, which charts quakes along fault lines, scientists want to create another to help predict what they call man-made earthquakes.

It would plot seismic activity around oil and gas production.

Holland thinks this map will unfairly assume the oil and gas industry is totally at fault.

He said, “I think it’s important to keep the distinction and the finger-pointing out of the seismic hazard arena.'”

Chad Warmington, president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, says, “They don’t have the data to definitively tie it to a specific industry.”

With more than 10 quakes in the metro just in the past seven days, the state Oil and Gas Association wants scientists to be sure before they blame all of these quakes on oil and gas production.

“It’s a little premature to think that,” says Warmington. “We’ve been having oil and gas activity occur in this state for as long as these people have been alive and it has never been a problem before.”