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Oklahoma Earthquakes Over Weekend Make Officials More Nervous

Tuesday, 22 Apr 2014 09:29 AM

By Alexandra Ward

A pair of earthquakes rattled central Oklahoma over the weekend, the latest tremors in a flurry of seismic activity that has officials asking California for advice on how to strengthen the state's infrastructure.

The first 3.5-magnitude quake struck shortly after 2:05 p.m. Sunday about eight miles north of Edmond, Okla., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

News9.com reported that the second 3.3-magnitude tremor was recorded at 2:31 p.m. about six miles south of Guthrie.

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No injuries or damage were reported from either earthquake.

The twin tremors on Sunday are just the latest examples of the uptick in recent seismic activity in the Sooner state. Five years ago, there were only one to three earthquakes a year but that number has shot up to an annual average of 40 since 2009, according to Governing.com.

The quakes are becoming so frequent that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is turning to earthquake-prone California for advice on how to reinforce the state's bridges and other structures.

Governing.com reported that of Oklahoma's 6,800 bridges, 468 of them are considered "structurally deficient."

"Those bridges were designed in the Model A era," Paul Green, ODOT's director of operations, said. "They certainly weren't designed for today's traffic loads. So anything that puts additional stress on those bridges is worrisome."

Oklahoma recently hosted a team of representatives from California's Department of Transportation to hopefully adopt their checklist for assessing bridges after earthquakes.

"Until something happens, until there is some damage, until maybe somebody dies, too many things don't get done," Paolo Gardoni, the director of the MAE Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told Governing.com. "Now, after a few earthquakes occurred [in Oklahoma], it may be the time to reassess and think a little bit ahead of time."

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