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U.S. Geological Survey sends seismic instruments to Oklahoma town after flurry of earthquakes

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CUSHING, Okla. - The U.S. Geological Survey has installed two additional seismic measurement instruments following a rash of earthquakes.

Many in Payne County are wondering the cause of the quakes.

Oil is big business in this part of Oklahoma.

There are 6,700 active oil and gas wells in Payne County, including more than 100 disposal wells. Disposal wells are the kind geology experts are looking very closely at for a connection between the wells and the earthquakes.

This issue is particularly important in the community of Cushing, which houses the largest oil storage facility in the country.

In Payne County there have been about two dozen earthquakes in the past month, including a 4.3 and a 4.0.

The epicenter of those largest quakes was near the Cushing Airport, right next to the oil storage tank farm, beneath 46 million barrels of oil.

"It really felt like an explosion." said Mark Hainey, a pilot with Jones Aviation.

Hainey and everyone else in Cushing felt the quake when it rattled their community on October 10th.

And so, this week the USGS planted two seismographs to further pinpoint the quakes.

The equipment has been installed at the airport and at a location on the west side of Cushing.

Hainey said the oil companies responded immediately following the quake by checking their equipment from the air. "Oil companies had their pipeline patrols up immediately. Patrolling the pipelines to make sure there was no damage."

Residents in Cushing want protection. Many have added on earthquake insurance to their homeowners' policy.

Farmers Insurance agent, Khris Fowler, has already had a client with a legitimate earthquake claim.

"That was a big deal to file an earthquake claim for some damage that the earthquake caused." Fowler said.

The Oklahoma Geological Survey has logged more than 4,000 earthquakes so far this year, an average of 14 per day.

Leaders at the State Capitol are studying some new regulations for wastewater disposal wells.

Some are hopeful increased monitoring at disposal sites might quiet the quakes.