Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Dedman College Research Earth Sciences Faculty News

Why is oil and gas activity causing earthquakes? And can we reduce the risk?

The Conversation

Originally Posted: May 11, 2015

If you’ve been following the news lately, chances are you’ve heard
image-20150507-1212-1qgtj56about – or even felt – earthquakes in the central United States. During the past five years, there has been an unprecedented increase in earthquakes in the North American mid-continent, a region previously considered one of the most stable on Earth.

According to a recent report by the Oklahoma Geological Survey, Oklahoma alone has seen seismicity rates increase 600 times compared to historic levels.

The state has gone from experiencing fewer than two magnitude-three earthquakes per year to greater than two per day, the report found. Similarly, my home state of Texas has experienced a near 10-fold increase in magnitude-three earthquakes or greater in the past five years.

The recent uptick in earthquakes in Texas, Oklahoma and several other central US states raises an obvious question: What is causing all of this seismicity? READ MORE