New research suggests the sharpest earthquake to strike Oklahoma may have been triggered in part by wastewater injection – which, if true, would make the 2011 temblor the strongest ever linked to disposal practices within the oil and gas industry.
The lead researcher on the study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, said a magnitude-5.0 quake triggered by wastewater injection on Nov. 6, 2011, set off subtle pressure that caused the 5.7 temblor later that day. The larger quake caused at least $4.5 million in damages.
An industry spokesman says a cause-and-effect cannot be proven because work in the oil patch hasn’t changed much in generations. A different study of the same quake noted that wastewater had been injected into abandoned oil wells nearby for 17 years without incident.