Experts predict stronger earthquake on the horizon for Oklahoma

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Earthquake damage

TULSA, Okla. – Dozens of earthquakes recorded over the past several days have rattled homes and Oklahomans’ nerves.

On Wednesday night, residents in Fairview were shocked when a 4.8 magnitude earthquake shook their properties.

While the constant shaking is unsettling to regular Oklahomans, it is foreboding to geological experts.

Jeremy Boak, the director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey, told the Tulsa World that the earthquakes we have been experiencing increase the likelihood that a bigger, more powerful earthquake is on the horizon.

“We’re the capital of the minor league earthquakes,” Boak told the newspaper. “We definitely have more of them. There’s no doubt in terms of induced seismicity, we’re the epicenter of it now. It’s a really different relationship than most other places that have mainly natural earthquakes… But it does mean that as we keep adding more earthquakes, there is steadily more and more risk of having a single earthquake at that higher end.”

Wednesday night’s quake is one of the strongest on record, but falls short compared to Oklahoma’s largest quake.

In 2011, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake shook the town of Prague, damaging several homes and businesses throughout the area.

While most of the earthquakes we experience these days don’t result in extensive damage, experts say that could all change.

“It’s unclear exactly how high we might go, and the predictions are upper 5-6 range for most things that I’ve seen,” Todd Halihan, a researcher from OSU, told NewsChannel 4 last year. “Underneath any of these urban areas, whether it’s Stillwater, Cushing, Oklahoma City, Guthrie, these cities are not built to seismic standards. They’re not in L.A.”

 

Daniel McNamara, a USGS research geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center, told the Tulsa World that it is possible another Prague-sized quake could hit a more populated area next time.

“Now we have as many as 13 different fault zones in Oklahoma with magnitude 4s occurring on them this year alone,” McNamara told the newspaper in November. “And so just from the behavior of the Prague sequence, any one of these looks like it could produce a 5 or 6-magnitude earthquake, so we’re very concerned about a number of these fault zones.”