Man-Made Earthquakes Now A Reality

Isn't the idea of man-made earthquakes something out of science fiction? Or maybe video games. Fans of the LucasArts game Fracture may recall weaponry like Tectonic Grenades that create "terrain deformation" as a part of game play.


(Terrain deformation rising)

Consider the (once) relatively earthquake-free state of Oklahoma...

...earthquakes were a relatively rare event for Oklahomans. Now they’re reported on daily, like the weather, and generally by the weatherman. Driving outside Oklahoma City one evening last November, I ended up stopped in traffic next to an electronic billboard that displayed, in rotation, an advertisement for one per cent cash back at the Thunderbird Casino, an advertisement for a Cash N Gold pawnshop, a three-day weather forecast, and an announcement of a 3.0 earthquake, in Noble County. Driving by the next evening, I saw that the display was the same, except that the earthquake was a 3.4, near Pawnee.

Until 2008, Oklahoma experienced an average of one to two earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater each year. (Magnitude-3.0 earthquakes tend to be felt, while smaller earthquakes may be noticed only by scientific equipment or by people close to the epicenter.) In 2009, there were twenty. The next year, there were forty-two. In 2014, there were five hundred and eighty-five, nearly triple the rate of California. Including smaller earthquakes in the count, there were more than five thousand. This year, there has been an average of two earthquakes a day of magnitude 3.0 or greater.

William Ellsworth, a research geologist at the United States Geological Survey, [said], “We can say with virtual certainty that the increased seismicity in Oklahoma has to do with recent changes in the way that oil and gas are being produced... Scientifically, it’s really quite clear.”

Via The New Yorker.

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