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How One Geologist Predicted Oklahoma's Quakes--64 Years Ago


In early 1952 an Oklahoma City petroleum geologist named William Atkinson raised eyebrows by purchasing earthquake insurance for his home.

His odd decision looked like a bit of psychic brilliance a month later. In April of that year Oklahoma City experienced a powerful earthquake—the most powerful in the state’s history until last week.

So, was William Atkinson clairvoyant? No, as fivethirtyeight.com reports, he was simply aware that Oklahoma is riddled with fault lines. And, as a petroleum geologist, he also knew that increased drilling activity in the state could have unintended seismic consequences.

Atkinson’s prescience holds true now more than ever. The wastewater disposal that accompanies the fracking process appears to wreak far more havoc on Oklahoma fault lines than traditional drilling ever did.