New Study Predicts Oklahoma Could See Fewer But Stronger Earthquakes

Aug 24, 2017

Credit ARS TECHNICA

A Stanford University study last year predicted fewer earthquakes in Oklahoma given there was less oil and gas drilling activity, but as State Impact reports, new research indicates that while there have been fewer earthquakes in Oklahoma, the likelihood of stronger earthquakes has doubled.

Wastewater injection into underground disposal wells is thought to be fueling the increase in the state’s earthquake activity. When that slowed, Stanford University geophysicists predicted fewer earthquakes.

However, a team of scientists from the University of California Santa Cruz and the Oklahoma Geological Survey agree that while the frequency of earthquakes has decreased, Oklahoma is two times more likely than previously predicted to experience a 5.0-magnitude or greater earthquake in 2017.

The new research also found that the time delay between injection activity and quakes in central and northwestern Oklahoma could be as long as 14 months, instead of five, as previously predicted.

Stanford researchers say the new analysis is based on a misinterpretation of their findings.