Is fracking related to the recent earthquakes in Oklahoma?
Well, it’s worth an extended discussion, but don’t count on the conservative corporate media here to go out of its way to cover the story just like it declines to discuss at any length whether climate change is responsible for the recent drought. In Oklahoma, as we all know, energy companies can do no wrong and there’s no such thing as global warming.
Last Saturday, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.6 literally rocked Oklahoma and even surrounding states. Located near Sparks, in central Oklahoma, it was the biggest earthquake ever recorded in the state. This was followed by approximately 22 aftershocks. On Monday evening, the earth moved again, this time with a magnitude of 4.6. Homes shook, people tried to find their footing and there was damage.
Is this the new “normal” in Oklahoma? Will the coming earthquakes get even stronger. If so, why?
Some geological experts point to the Wizetta Fault, also called the Seminole Uplift, just east of Oklahoma City, which has experienced an uptick in seismic activity recently for supposedly unknown reasons. Others question whether the relatively new technology of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, might be responsible for an increase in earthquakes here and in Arkansas.
Fracking is a process in which pressured fluid is injected into rock layers to release fossil fuels, such as a natural gas. Some consider it a “dirty” process, with the potential to harm water supplies and the environment. Now, it has been tentatively attributed to earthquakes. According to a Planetsave post:
While it seems fracking doesn’t cause earthquakes immediately, it lowers the barriers to earthquakes happening, loosens up the rocks enough that it is more likely to happen. In Arkansas, they noticed that it was especially the wastewater disposal wells that seemed to be setting the stage for earthquakes. As quoted above, when these wastewater disposal wells were shut down – high-pressure injection of wastewater was stopped – the number of earthquakes diminished back down to a more normal level soon after.
Is this happening in Oklahoma, too? According to the same Planetsave post:
In Oklahoma, the situation is quite similar (though, of course, the investigation has not been completed yet). The largest earthquake that hit Oklahoma this weekend, a 5.6-magnitude tremor near Sparks, was the largest on record in the state. Dozens of earthquakes hit Oklahoma on the weekend.
Oklahoma has seen the same rise in earthquake activity that Arkansas saw. Going from about 50 earthquakes a year up until 2009, the state got 1,047 last year! I’m sorry, but did no one there or studying the matter notice? Or did they just not make the connection to fracking? Or did they just have no influence over the matter, so no one heard them?
Obviously, it’s too soon to make a direct connection between fracking and an increase in earthquakes, but isn’t it at least worth studying or at least worth some discussion. How much fracking is going on in or near the state, and where is it located? Does fracking create unstable rock foundations that can lead to more earthquakes and more intense earthquakes?
Geological experts here should not hesitate to study the issue despite the opposition they might face from the corporate power structure, including the media, particularly The Oklahoman.