EARTHQUAKES IN OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma Geological Survey

The Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) is a state agency for research and public service charged with studying the state’s land, water, mineral and energy resources.  The OGS actively works with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to share, process and analyze data related to seismic events in the state.

In April 2015, the OGS determined that the majority of recent earthquakes in central and north-central Oklahoma are very likely triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells.

Seismic Monitoring in Oklahoma

OGS Seismic Monitoring Stations

OGS Seismic Monitoring Stations

Oklahoma maintains one of the nation’s most robust seismic monitoring systems.  In fact, OGS began earthquake monitoring 40 years ago with its first seismic station that is still in operation near Leonard, Oklahoma.  This network plays an important role in recording the recent earthquakes in Oklahoma. The OGS seismic monitoring program’s purpose is to accurately document earthquakes occurring in the state.

Read the OGS field report “Siting Seismic Stations” on how the OGS partners with local land owners to install seismic monitoring stations across the state to study seismic activity.

The Oklahoma Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy at the University of Oklahoma, the state’s oil and gas industry, the Oklahoma Cooperation Commission, and the Office of the Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment, recently received a research grant from the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA). Titled “4D Integrated Study Using Geology, Geophysics, Reservoir Modeling and Rock Mechanics to Develop Assessment Models for Potential Induced Seismicity Risk”, the grant has provided additional monitoring stations with the goal of increased detection of smaller seismic events and improved data products for earthquakes within the region.  Additionally, the RPSEA grant provides for basic research to better understand the geological, geophysical and engineering aspects of triggered seismicity.

OGS partners with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct research. Read the OGS field report “Where is the Node?!” on OGS efforts to assist the USGS  to retrieve more than 1800 seismic array nodes deployed in Grant county for the LArge-n Seismic Survey in Oklahoma (LASSO).

Mapping Oklahoma’s Faults

In addition, the OGS continues to compile a database of known fault locations within Oklahoma from published scientific literature and voluntarily fault data contributions from the state’s oil and gas operators.  The updated map will enable regulators and industry to make informed decisions about locating disposal wells, permit applications and responses to seismic events.  OGS, along with USGS,  issued a joint statement May 2, 2014 noting that the earthquake hazard in Oklahoma has increased due to the increased rate of seismicity.

Residents in earthquake prone areas often report that they are experiencing damage.  Scientists can benefit from information about damage experienced during a particular earthquake so residents are encouraged to report damage to the OGS.  In addition, scientists can benefit from knowledge of intensity of shaking from earthquakes and where an earthquake was felt and residents are encouraged to share their experiences in an earthquake .

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management provides information on how to prepare and what to do during a significant earthquake.

Resources