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Magnitude-3.7 Tremor Hits Oil-Rich Oklahoma

Fracking Well

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported that a magnitude-3.7 earthquake hit the oil-rich state of Oklahoma early on 20 June 2016.

The tremor was detected at approximately 3:00 AM local time near the city of Fairview in the north-central part of the state, and at a depth of approximately 4.3 kilometers below ground.

The quake occurred following a magnitude-3.2 tremor the previous day near the northern border with Kansas.

No incidents of major damage or injuries have been reported with either tremor.

According to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, at least thirty-three earthquakes have occurred in the state since 14 June, including more than a dozen since 17 June. Ten of these tremors, including the event on Monday morning, were a minimum 3.0 on the Richter scale, while eighteen measured at magnitudes of 2.5 and 2.9.

The latest USGS earthquake hazards map released in March concluded that seismic risk in Oklahoma is similar to that in Alaska and California. Recorded tremors in Oklahoma mushroomed from twenty-one in 2005 to nearly 6000 a decade later. In 2015 alone, the USGS detected almost 900 earthquakes at a magnitude of 3.0 and above.

Related: OPEC May Be Forcing Venezuela Into Regime Change

Researchers believe the spike in earthquakes result from the billions of barrels of salty wastewater injected underground that have come to the surface during oil and natural gas exploration. The water’s injection back into the earth has put pressure on Oklahoma’s fault lines, which have led to tremors that have caused material damage. The state has thousands of disposal wells, particularly in the northwestern and central regions, where most of the earthquakes are occurring.

Oil and gas are Oklahoma’s largest industry and employ roughly one in six workers in the state. Oklahoma is the third-largest and sixth-largest producer of natural gas and oil, respectively, in the U.S.

By Erwin Cifuentes for Oilprice.com

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