[PBS] Oklahoma’s governor on Saturday declared a state of emergency for Pawnee County located near the epicenter of one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in the state.
The 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck Saturday morning about 8 miles
northwest of Pawnee City, damaging buildings, shaking food from shelves
in local supermarkets and sending shock waves through several Midwestern
Gov. Mary Fallin said in a statement
that no injuries were reported and damage was limited, though the state
of emergency designation for Pawnee County would open up funding for
disaster relief and emergency preparedness and could bring in federal
Saturday’s earthquake equaled another 5.6 earthquake recorded in 2011
in Oklahoma’s Lincoln County, the largest ever documented in the state.
Oklahoma has seen a rapid rise in the number of earthquakes over the last six years, which scientists link to the use of wastewater by the oil and gas industry.
While the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is often
associated with the uptick in Oklahoma earthquakes, some studies show
earthquakes may instead be caused by companies pulling gas and oil from
water found underground, then back into the earth through disposal
Historically, the state saw just two magnitude 3 earthquakes or
higher per year prior to 2009, though that number surged to more than
900 in 2015 after domestic production of oil and gas increased along
with the amount of wastewater.
Earlier this year, state regulators curbed the amount of wastewater
that the oil and gas industry can inject thousands of feet into the
Arbuckle formation, a sedimentary rock layer found under Oklahoma that
rests above fault lines. Read More