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Evidence mounting to suggest earthquakes are man made

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OKLAHOMA - Oklahoma residents are fed up with what they're calling a daily occurrence of earthquakes and a lack of action by the state.

Their complaints are backed up by these alarming numbers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

From 1978-2008, Oklahoma would average two earthquakes a year that were greater than a 3.0 magnitude.

The USGS says just during the past two weeks, the state has experienced 21 earthquakes above a 3.0 magnitude.

It's taken an emotional toll on residents who live by Liberty Lake, near Guthrie.

"Feels like we're going to, I don't know, die," resident Erika Bermudez said Thursday.

Even though she is feeling more earthquakes than ever before, Bermudez and her children are not getting any more comfortable with them.

"My family, getting all my kids together (when earthquakes hit) is hard because my girl was so freaked out," she said. "She was like 'Mommy, what's going to happen!'"

Corporation Commission records show there are nine oil and gas wastewater disposal wells near Liberty Lake that are within a six-mile radius of the epicenter of a 4.0 earthquake, which struck the area within the past year.

In theory, when the wastewater from the hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") and drilling process is injected underground, water pressure builds up along a fault line and acts like a lubricant - causing the earth's crust to slip.

"They are producing high volumes, unprecedented high volumes of waste water and salt water that has to be disposed of," Bob Jackman, an independent petroleum geologist, said.

He has no doubt that Oklahoma's increased number of earthquakes are directly related to the increased number of oil and gas disposal wells.

A recent USGS report says those wells are a "likely contributing factor."

Jackman says the solution is simple - move those wastewater disposal wells away from fault lines, regardless of the cost to oil and gas companies.

"They need to not get into the mode, which they're in now, of denial," he said. "They need to man up (and admit) that the disposal wells are the problem."

Chesapeake Energy and Devon Energy referred NewsChannel 4 to other agencies.

Continental Resources did not return our calls.

Governor Fallin recently announced a Council on Seismic Activity will study the recent earthquake swarm.

The Corporation Commission, a part of that council, is now requiring more data recording for certain disposal wells, as well as the development of more detailed fault line maps.