The Oklahoma Earthquake: Is A Catastrophic Midwest Earthquake Possible?

Daniel Ketchum

The Midwest earthquake that struck early this morning probably came as a shock to many people. Most of us tend to think of earthquakes as something only coastal areas in places like California and Alaska need to worry about. According to CNN, the earthquake measured 5.6 on the Richter scale and its epicenter was near Pawnee, Oklahoma. While the damage from this particular event was relatively minor, it raises the question of whether a truly catastrophic earthquake in the Midwest is a possibility.

But as it turns out, a number of government agencies are extremely concerned about the possibility of a massive – almost unprecedented – earthquake in the Midwest. More than this, they have for some years been taking active steps to study the problem. It's not as if this kind of earthquake in the Midwest hasn't happened before.

To deal with the possibility of something like this happening again, FEMA created the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium or CUSEC. As some of its critics have pointed out, this group is operated primarily by engineers. Instead of exclusively looking at the science behind earthquakes, they're looking at its possible effects on things like buildings and the flow of the Mississippi.

If this is true, then the earthquake experienced today in Oklahoma and throughout the Midwest probably was a result of fracking and not a natural quake at all. Of course, while this might be a relief for those worried about the possibility of a massive catastrophe in the Midwest, it also suggests that future small earthquakes may continue happening as long as fracking is going on.

[Image via YouTube]