Northern Oklahoma Rattled by Small Earthquakes

February 7, 2021

A series of small earthquakes believed by seismologists to be caused by the underground injection of wastewater from oil and gas production continued to rattle northern Oklahoma on Feb. 6.

Four quakes occurred Saturday morning, the strongest being magnitude 3.3 about 4 a.m., southeast of Enid in an area about 85 miles-100 miles (137-161 kilometers) north of Oklahoma City.

Nearly two dozen quakes have been recorded in the area since Friday, Feb., 5 by the Oklahoma Geological Survey with the most powerful being magnitude 4.2.

No injuries or damage have been reported and geologists say damage is not likely in earthquakes below magnitude 4.0.

Thousands of earthquakes have been recorded in Oklahoma in recent years, many linked to the underground injection of wastewater from oil and gas production, which is being considered as a cause of the tremors, said state seismologist Jake Walter.

Walter said it is too soon to be certain of the cause, but that it is likely the tremors are connected to wastewater disposal.

There are about a dozen active disposal wells within a 10 mile radius of the earthquakes, said Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesperson Sarah Terry-Cobo.

In response to the quakes, commission regulators ordered oil and gas operators to cease disposing of wastewater within three miles of the earthquake’s epicenter and to reduce disposal volume within three to 10 miles of the epicenter. The commission estimates the actions will reduce disposal volume by about 9,000 barrels each day.

The 4.2 magnitude quake was recorded about 11:45 a.m. on Friday, about 90 minutes after the magnitude 3.7 and 3.5 quakes, in addition to at least six other tremors ranging from 2.0 to 2.7 magnitude.

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