New research links surge in Oklahoma earthquakes to drilling activity

|By:, SA News Editor

A recent surge of low-magnitude earthquakes in Oklahoma probably is the result of the underground disposal of vast quantities of wastewater generated by oil and gas extraction, according to a new study published today in the journal Science.

The researchers also calculated that four of the highest-volume wells in Oklahoma are capable of triggering ~20% of recent central U.S. quakes, and found that such induced quakes could potentially occur more than 30 km from the well.

The Cornell geophysics professor who led the study says the results suggest regulators and oil companies should avoid disposing of wastewater near major faults and do a better job monitoring the activity.

Among energy firms with a significant Oklahoma presence: CHK, CLR, APA, DVN, SD, EOG, MRO, OKE, OKS, GPOR, WPX, WMB, WPZ, LPI, CWEI, NFX, NGL, COG, WLL, NBL, MPO, PQ, XEC.