Oklahoma Fracking Operations Could See More Regulation After Big Quake

Sep 9, 2016

Seismicity map for Oklahoma and nearby areas – Dark blue circles indicate earthquakes from pre-2009 while circles of other colors indicate earthquakes since 2009.
Credit USGS

Oklahoma fracking operations are facing a potential backlash in the wake of last week’s 5.6-magnitude earthquake, Bloomberg reports.

Last year, Oklahoma had almost 900 earthquakes of magnitude three or higher. Earlier this year Oklahoma regulators limited the disposal of oilfield wastewater in the state, hoping to prevent seismic activity. But this latest quake may trigger calls for more limits on wastewater wells in the state.

The 375 earthquakes Oklahoma experienced in the first half of this year are a far cry from the two that occurred in 2008, before the fracking boom.

The earthquakes are now understood to be caused by fracked wells, which produce large quantities of wastewater. The wastewater is injected into ultra-deep disposal wells, which destabilizes the geologic foundation.