Do you know which state in the Lower 48 has the most earthquake activity?
Most of you will probably say California, right?
That makes sense considering we always hear about "The Big One" hitting and shearing off the western side of the nation. But you'd be wrong.
In actuality, the top state for seismic activity is Oklahoma.
That's right, Oklahoma. The Sooner State.
I found this out this week during a podcast I was listening to, while driving through Texas, on my way to Oklahoma.
Out of all 50 states, only Alaska experiences more quakes than Oklahoma.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), from 1978 to 2008, Oklahoma averaged one to three quakes per year of magnitude 3.0 or greater.
In 2009, that number went up to 20.
In 2012, there were 36 earthquakes.
In 2013, they had 109.
In 2014, the number more than quintupled to 585 quakes.
Last year, 2015, Oklahoma experienced 907 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater.
And as of March of this year, they've experienced over 160 quakes.
That's a LOT of shaking.
The numbers are actually in the thousands for regular 'ol earthquakes, but only those 3.0 or greater seem to be where the concern starts. In January of this year they had two larger quakes, one of them a magnitude 4.8. And back in 2011, a 5.7 quake damaged 200 buildings.
A 3.0 is considered small (movement wise) on the Richter Scale, but each level is 10 times stronger then the previous level, so 3.0 to 4.8 seems like a significant jump.
The reason the earth is moving so much in Oklahoma?
Underground wells used for the wastewater produced as a result of the natural gas and oil wells.
As you might expect, the oil and gas industry has downplayed the occurrence of quakes and have only complied to changes under duress. And the politicians in the state have been slow to respond to the problem, which is no surprise considering one in five Oklahomans are employed by the industry and many of the politicians (like Governor Mary Fallin) receive thousands of dollars in contributions from them.
"Although critics contend that earthquakes have caused millions of dollars of damage, Oklahoma’s political leaders have long been reluctant to impose restrictions on an industry that dominates the state’s economy. Until last spring, Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, maintained that the cause of the tremors was unclear, and the state Legislature refused to consider legislation addressing the issue."
I guess people who live there are used to it, although those whose houses have been damaged aren't too thrilled about just having to deal with it for the good of the industry that keeps the state afloat.
The reporting of these quakes has been going on for many years, but I had never heard anything about it until I heard the podcast. My only concern driving through the state had always been tornadoes.
Now I have to worry about being shaken off the interstate.
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2015: Harnessing The Power Of The Wind
2014: Listen And Learn
2013: Escape From Texas
2012: Like Cattle In A Penn
2011: Another Day In The Trucking Life
2010: Ed Prepares For The Italy Trip
2009: Strolling Along The Atlantic
2008: Eddie Chatting It Up Friday
2007: The ABC’s Of Me
2006: After The Storm
2005: The Essence Of Me