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Oklahoma Earthquakes Add Up Amid Fear of Higher Magnitudes

Image: Oklahoma Earthquakes Add Up Amid Fear of Higher Magnitudes

A pipeline monument stands outside Cushing where Oklahoma regulators are cracking down on saltwater disposal wells near a vitally important crude storage hub after a rash of quakes have stoked concerns its tanks and pipelines may not be designed to handle a major seismic event. (REUTERS/Heide Brandesx)

By    |   Tuesday, 01 Dec 2015 12:01 PM

Two Oklahoma earthquakes on Monday morning added to the number of tremors the state has experienced this year amid concerns about an increase in the magnitude of future quakes.

Northwest Oklahoma was hit with a 4.7 magnitude earthquake about 3:49 a.m. local time, which could be felt as far away as Kansas City, said the Enid News. The quake was centered just north of Nash, 24 miles northwest of Enid.

The second earthquake at 3.1 magnitude was reported at 7 a.m., some 22 miles southeast of Enid.

Monday's first earthquake was the strongest to hit the state since a quake that struck Cherokee on Nov. 19, said the Tulsa World. The two were the biggest quakes since 2011, when Oklahoma had 4.8 and 5.6 magnitude earthquakes.

National Public Radio said oil and gas production in the state has led to industries pumping toxic waste water into underground disposal wells to keep from contaminating drinking water.

Scientists believe the wells create pressure on faults, causing them to slip and that has created the state's dramatic boom in earthquakes, according to NPR.

Experts have recorded more than 5,000 earthquakes in the state this year and some worry that the magnitudes will increase over time, said KFOR-TV.

Todd Halihan, a researcher at Oklahoma State University, said the challenge for the state is that its cities are not equipped for increased seismic activity, as in California.

"It's unclear exactly how high we might go, and the predictions are upper 5-6 range for most things that I've seen," said Halihan.

"Underneath any of these urban areas, whether it's Stillwater, Cushing, Oklahoma City, Guthrie, these cities are not built to seismic standards. They're not in L.A." said Halihan.

Because Oklahoma homes and businesses are not prepared for such larger earthquakes it could lead to sizable harm, he said.

"We have a lot of buildings that were built with earthquakes not even on the radar screen, so we would expect probably a fair bit of damage." 

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Two Oklahoma earthquakes on Monday morning added to the number of tremors the state has experienced this year amid concerns about an increase in the magnitude of future quakes.
oklahoma, earthquakes, higher, magnitudes
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2015-01-01
Tuesday, 01 Dec 2015 12:01 PM
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