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Why is Oklahoma leading in earthquakes?

March 22, 2016

Cushing, Oklahoma is home to many storage tanks full of oil. Put that oil into semi-tanker trucks parked bumper to bumper, and you have a convoy stretching from Cushing, across the Atlantic, past Berlin, Germany. Seems like a lot of weight being stored in one little area.

Does concentrating that kind of weight on a few square miles have any significant geologic effect? Could anyone really know for sure?

I read several sources about Oklahoma earthquakes. The central U.S. used to be so calm. No earthquakes to speak of. But now the ground is vibrating its citizens into a lifestyle of cracked walls and shattered glass. Some accept it, but not all.

Energy industries accept it. They’re busy seeking resources from under the feet of Oklahoma residents and explain it in two ways: the local increase in earthquakes is simply an innocent byproduct of their industry (nothing to worry about), or that the local increase of quakes has nothing at all to do with their drilling, fracking or waste-water injections…just a coincidence. Sounds similar to the coincidence in the 1960’s with Colorado’s waste-water injections (when the injections stopped, so did their quakes).

The fact remains that we don’t really know what’s under our feet in the sense of how our planet is knit together or how it all works. When experts tell us their industrial activities have no consequence, we should note that the deepest hole ever drilled is reported to be about seven miles––not very deep, considering Earth is 8,000 miles across. So if we can’t get down under (nothing to do with Australia) to truly examine things, how can anyone above ground really know where they stand?

I’m not against the energy companies. I like flipping a switch for light and heat instead of having to kindle a fire. But conveniences of technology bring certain tradeoffs. Some people trade opinion for fact, while others trade fact for opinion. And with a shortage of knowledge, opinions can thrive for years, concealing the true tradeoffs.

Right now, our study of geology overflows with opinion. Especially about earthquakes and what causes them.