earthquakes

New research out of Stanford University shows that limiting wastewater injection is helping to prevent man-made earthquakes in Kansas and Oklahoma.

The researchers have created a new physics-based model that can better predict where man-made earthquakes will occur by looking at increases in pressure. The model shows that the number of earthquakes is driven by how much wastewater is being injected into the ground.

CC0 Creative Commons

The number of earthquakes in Oklahoma of magnitude 4.0 or higher is up significantly for the year 2018. However, the overall frequency of quakes is still on the decline.

As The Tulsa World reports, through the end of June this year, the Sooner State saw almost 100 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or higher. But that’s down from almost 150 during the same period last year.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

The state of Oklahoma has had a crazy few days.

First, the most powerful Oklahoman in the Federal Government, EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, faced mounting outrage over his use of taxpayer dollars to pay for first-class flights and a 24-hour security detail. The secretary also rented a private room from an energy lobbyist in the nation’s capital, for far below market value.

And then there were the state’s teachers, who walked out of schools across Oklahoma in protest of low pay and ten years’ worth of poor funding for education.

Zack Pistora of the Kansas Sierra Club was worried about the number of earthquakes in the state and wanted to do something about it.

“Those earthquakes can cause damage to people’s homes, businesses, public buildings,” he said. “Right now there’s no recourse for those Kansans who get affected.”

Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

Fracking operations in Texas have awakened sleeping fault lines, leading to a spate of unprecedented earthquakes across the northern part of the state, reports Scientific American.

The appearance of the quakes echoes recent history in Oklahoma. As with its neighbor to the north, the frequency of earthquakes in Texas has grown year by year since the introduction of wastewater injection from hydraulic fracturing operations.

Kansas’ energy-regulating agency is trying to determine why permits were issued for half a dozen wastewater wells whose operators didn’t accurately inform nearby residents of their rights to protest the wells.

The deficiencies were discovered by a resident of Matfield Green in Chase County who objects to the wells, into which companies can pour hundreds or thousands of barrels of oil- and gas-related wastewater per day.

Cindy Hoedel wants the Kansas Corporation Commission to shut down the wells and make the companies in question redo the application process.

The governments of Douglas County and Lawrence are calling for changes to Kansas regulations amid an energy company’s proposal to pump wastewater into wells in rural Eudora.

Among their concerns, the local officials argue that the public deserves a 60-day protest period — twice as long as the current allowance — when companies seek to operate such wells in or near their communities.

Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman said the goal is “good public process.”

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The uptick in seismic activity in Oklahoma is featured in an Oct. 2  National Geographic article that takes a look at the increase in earthquakes induced by such human activities as fracking.

According to the article, a recent study published in the journal Seismological Research Letters identified 730 sites where human activity caused earthquakes over the past 150 years.

The fight over an oil-related waste disposal well in Kansas’ Flint Hills has broadened into a campaign to protest similar wells across several counties and lobby lawmakers for regulatory changes.

ARS TECHNICA

A Stanford University study last year predicted fewer earthquakes in Oklahoma given there was less oil and gas drilling activity, but as State Impact reports, new research indicates that while there have been fewer earthquakes in Oklahoma, the likelihood of stronger earthquakes has doubled.

Sarah&Boston / Flickr Creative Commons

After a bit of a seismic hiatus, earthquakes returned full force to Oklahoma last week, reports KOTV.

Beginning Tuesday night, Oklahoma was pummeled by at least 11 different earthquakes of magnitude three or higher, according to the United States Geological Survey.

No major damage was reported.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

New research suggests the strongest earthquake in Oklahoma history may have been caused by hydraulic fracturing that occurred years before the event itself, StateImpact Oklahoma reports.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A new study has found that the most practical way to deal with leftover wastewater from fracking sites is to reuse the water rather than simply disposing of it. As StateImpact reports, the report from the Produced Water Working Group suggests that wastewater injection can be reduced by reuse.

ARS TECHNICA

A federal judge last week moved to dismiss a lawsuit that environmental group Sierra Club filed against Oklahoma energy companies over earthquakes linked to oil and gas activity.

As KOSU reports, the Sierra Club filed the lawsuit last year in hopes the U.S. court would find Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy and New Dominion violated federal waste management laws by operating injection wells that contributed to earthquake activity in the state.

While scientists have gained a clearer understanding of what's causing recent earthquakes in the Great Plains, they haven't reached a point where people can let their guard down. That's according to Heather DeShon, associate professor and seismologist at Southern Methodist University.

"The earthquakes in Oklahoma and parts of Kansas ... have been linked to a process called wastewater injection," she says.

In that process, large volumes of salty, briny water are deposited into cavities in deep rock layers, says DeShon.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma continues to see a drop in the frequency of earthquakes in the state, after fracking regulation was put in place to quell the seismic activity.

But, as The Wichita Eagle reports, regulators are working to ensure that the number of earthquakes doesn’t rise again in the Sooner State.

NewsOK.com

This week Oklahoma regulators released new regulations in hopes of further reducing the frequency of earthquakes in the Sooner State.

As The Oklahoman reports, this "fracking" plan is an expansion of previous responses to earthquakes linked to wastewater disposal wells. Recently the state has seen rapid development in the SCOOP and STACK formations in west central and south central Oklahoma. Almost half of Oklahoma’s 78 drilling rigs are in those two areas.

Ars Technica

Oklahoma could be in for a lot less shaking according to a research study that shows earthquake activity slows as wastewater injection is reduced.

Ars Technica

Oklahoma’s earthquake rate has declined significantly since late May, reports Ars Technica. And things should be improving even further, according to a new study from Stanford University.

The improvement comes after the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered wastewater injections to be reduced earlier this year.

Ars Technica

Attorneys in Oklahoma are laying the groundwork for a massive class action lawsuit surrounding the recent profusion of earthquakes in the Sooner State.

AP photo/The Oklahoman

There are very few corners of America’s oil and gas industry that are abuzz with prospects for a bright future these days.

But one of them is the niche market for dirty-water disposal in Oklahoma.

The market is worth about $3 billion, and as Bloomberg reports, Brian Kalt thinks he has it cornered.

NB/Reuters

Oklahoma’s earthquake victims have joined forces, and now they’re demanding action from their lawmakers.

As KFOR reports, last week, a group of homeowners  who have been terrorized by the quakes gathered at the state capitol, asking to be heard.

Sue Ogrocki / The Wichita Eagle

The 5.8-magnitude earthquake in Oklahoma last month raised some big questions for Kansas geologist Tandis Bidgoli.

“I was very concerned,” Bidgoli said, “because it didn’t appear there were any foreshocks to that event.”

Cori Duke / KJRH

A prominent Oklahoma geologist says, when it comes to earthquakes, the trouble could come from unknown quarters. Specifically, the director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey is worried about what scientists don’t understand about geology.

Hutchinson News

The severity and frequency of earthquakes in Colorado appears to be lessening, reports The Hutchinson News.

In the past three weeks, there has been just one quake of magnitude 2.0 or greater in the Sunflower State. Only one resident in the state felt that earthquake, which was centered underneath Anthony’s Forest Park Cemetery.

Getty Images

Oklahoma now has more earthquakes than any state in the lower 48, including California. And, as CNBC reports, the cause of all this shaking appears to be manmade. But can anything be done?

fivethirtyeight

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.

Kool Cats Photography / Flickr Creative Commons

Last week’s 5.6-magnitude earthquake in Oklahoma has now been upgraded to a 5.8, making it the highest magnitude earthquake in the state’s history.

In the wake of this massive quake, CNN Money has published an overview of what we know about these quakes.

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.

Rural Blog

It’s no secret wastewater injection wells linked to fracking have led to a staggering rise in earthquakes in Oklahoma and Kansas. But now, notes The Rural Blog, oil and gas companies appear to have discovered a method to reduce man-made seismic activity.

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