A 5.6 magnitude earthquake shook parts of the US Midwest earlier this morning, rattling homes from Nebraska to North Texas. The unusually strong quake will likely draw further scrutiny to the practice of disposing oil and gas field wastewater deep underground.
The US Geological Survey recorded a 5.6 magnitude earthquake at 7:02 am this morning in north-central Oklahoma. It was centered about nine miles (14 km) from Pawnee, Oklahoma. A second quake was recorded less than an hour later, measuring 3.6.
…Norman Radar from this AM. Bloom on radar is birds being woken up & taking flight thanks to the 5.6 earthquake! pic.twitter.com/B8ERsGimG9
— Aaron Treadway (@OUwx13) September 3, 2016
Experts say the quakes are related to an increase in the disposal of waste water from oil and natural gas drilling. A Tulsa World analysis has shown that the volume of waste water that’s being stored underground has jumped more than 80 per cent over the past six years, which also happens to coincide with the state’s sudden proclivity to earthquakes. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has already imposed restrictions on the amount of water that can be injected in certain areas, but this latest quake could prompt revisions.