A group of state energy officials, researchers and industry experts issued a report Monday offering guidance on how to handle earthquakes triggered by oil and gas activity.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission

State oil and gas authorities on Friday limited activity at five disposal wells after a string of earthquakes recorded near the city of Cushing.

A wave of small quakes has struck near the city in recent days. On Friday morning, a magnitude 3.8 to 4.1-magnitude temblor was recorded. No damage has been reported.

In the five years since earthquakes first began blitzing Oklahoma, state officials have been hesitant to agree with scientists who blamed the oil and gas industry.

The shaking doesn't appear to be slowing, but the regulatory response is ramping up as more state officials acknowledge the link between increased seismic activity and waste fluid pumped into the disposal wells of oil fields.

To show how an oil and gas boom fueled a massive surge of earthquakes, scientists used algorithms, statistics and computer models of fluid flow and seismic energy.

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Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

While the research connecting Oklahoma’s earthquake surge to oil and gas activity is built on algorithms, statistical analysis and computer models of fluid flow and seismic energy, monitoring compliance with regulatory actions designed to stop the shaking relies on muddy, manual fieldwork.


“Welcome to Quakelahoma,” writes VICE’s Matt Smith, “where in less than a decade the state has gone from having about two noticeable earthquakes a year to about two a day.”


A boom of earthquakes linked to oil and gas production “has and will continue to have sharp economic consequences” in Oklahoma and other states experiencing man-made seismicity, Standard and Poor’s Rating Services analysts write in a recent report.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

In the five years since earthquakes first began blitzing Oklahoma, state officials have been hesitant to agree with scientists who blamed the oil and gas industry.

While the shaking doesn’t appear to be slowing, the regulatory response is now quickly ramping up.

When Gov. Mary Fallin talked about the earthquakes a year ago at the 2014 state energy conference, she was circumspect and noncommittal.

“Many have been quick out in the public sector, or even in the private sector, to draw conclusions about its cause,” she said in remarks opening the Oklahoma City event last year

As scientific evidence has mounted, however, the doubt has eroded. Speaking at the state Capitol last week, Fallin publicly agreed with what researchers have said for years.

Headlines for Wednesday, August 5, 2015:

  • Governor Fallin talks earthquakes in Oklahoma. (KFOR)

  • The family of Monroe Bird who was shot by an allegedly intoxicated security guard want justice. (Tulsa World)

  • A former spokesman for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office says he’s “excited” to testify before a grand jury. (Tulsa World)

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma oil and gas authorities on Monday ordered the operators of 23 disposal wells in two counties to reduce the amount of wastewater pumped underground.