Just a few days after parts of Southern California experienced a magnitude 4.4 earthquake, we now have confirmation from the U.S. Geological Survey about an earthquake that hit Oklahoma on the very first day of 2016. According to data from USGS, an earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale hit Oklahoma City at 5:39 a.m. on Friday. On Tuesday, another earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale was reported from the same area. According to an ABC News report, the tremors were significant enough to be noticed by residents of the area. The epicenter of the earthquake is reported to be the city of Edmond. This is located about 16 miles north of Oklahoma City.
So far, no injuries have been reported due to the earthquake. There are, however, reports of minor damage to homes — but nothing that is very noticeable. Multiple reports of power outages across the city of Edmond were reported after the earthquake. More than 4,400 homes were left in the dark. However, it remains unclear whether the power outage was caused by the early morning earthquake. Power was also restored to almost all the homes within a few hours.
According to Mike Stewart, a resident of Edmond, “We came out pretty good. I heard the earthquake, I expected some sort of damage, but all we had was some pictures fall, no broken stuff.”
Mike Stewart is the head golf professional at Fairfax Golf Club located near the epicenter.
With two medium-sized earthquakes being reported within the span of a few days, Oklahoma is once again in the spotlight as one of the world’s most earthquake-prone regions. Recent statistics show an alarming increase in the seismic activity in Oklahoma over the course of the past few years. The region reported just over a dozen earthquakes greater than magnitude 3.0 each year until 2012. Compare that to the more than 800 earthquakes that have been recorded in the area in 2015 alone. The 4.2 magnitude earthquake is still way smaller than the biggest earthquake to hit the region. Back in 2011, Oklahoma witnessed a magnitude 5.6 earthquake which, to date, remains the strongest ever earthquake to hit the region in recorded history. That earthquake reportedly damaged over 200 buildings and even affected a football stadium located in Stillwater, which was over 65 miles away from the epicenter.
The reason for the sudden surge in seismic activity is also being blamed on fracking in the region. It is pertinent to note that many of these earthquakes occur in regions where oil companies have made injection wells to extract oil and gas. The alarming increase in seismic activity has also resulted in regulators taking a note and asking oil companies to reduce the volume of oil being extracted. That said, what makes this latest earthquake peculiar is the fact that its epicenter near Edmond does not face the fracking problem, nor has it been seismically active in the past.
Meanwhile, officials from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission issued a statement Friday saying its Oil and Gas Division staff is taking action in response to the earthquakes in Edmond. More details on this earthquake is expected by Monday, they further added.
The statement read, “The issue is extremely complex, as the initial review of the data for the area in question has not identified any oil and gas wastewater disposal wells that are both high volume and in the state’s deepest formation, a combination that researchers have identified as being at the highest risk for inducing earthquakes.”
Are you a resident of Oklahoma? Did you feel the earthquake?
(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)