A 5.0 magnitude earthquake struck Oklahoma on the evening of Nov. 6 near the town of Cushing, an area that has experienced increased seismic activity since 2015, the Oklahoma Geological Survey reported. Several aftershocks, the largest of which was magnitude 2.6, followed shortly after the initial 5.0 magnitude temblor, according to the OGS.
Sunday’s quake, which occurred about two miles west of Cushing, follows a week of high earthquake activity — nearly two dozen temblors were recorded in the state, including a 4.5 magnitude quake near Pawnee, where the state’s largest recorded earthquake struck in September.
The Associated Press reported that around 40 to 50 buildings were damaged by the Cushing quake. According to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, a 16-block area in downtown Cushing cordoned off because of danger posed by unstable façades and broken glass. The quake rendered century-old buildings unsafe and raised concerns about key infrastructure, the AP reported.
Cushing, about 50 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, is home to one of the largest oil storage terminals in the world. Federal, state and local safety officials previously have expressed concern over the potential threat to the oil storage facilities from the increase in seismic activity.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin tweeted early on Monday that no damage had been reported at the storage tank farms from the quake. Fallin also said that Cushing schools would be closed on Monday to assess possible damage from the quake.
The number of magnitude 3.0 or greater in Oklahoma has grown a few dozen in 2012 to around 900 in 2015. The Oklahoma Geological Survey has attributed the increase in earthquakes to the injection of wastewater from oil and gas activities into underground disposal wells.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulates the oil and gas industry in the state, and has in the past both ordered the shutdown of wastewater wells and asked well owners to voluntarily reduce disposal volumes in areas that have seen a significant increase in injection well-related seismic activity.
In response to the Nov. 7 quake near Cushing, the OCC said its oil and gas division is working on a plan to “further modify” disposal well operations in the area.
In a note on its website, the OCC said its “Pipeline Safety Department reports normal operation has resumed for pipeline operators in the Cushing oil storage terminal under state jurisdiction.”
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