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.

Three earthquakes have shaken parts of central and northern Oklahoma in less than one hour.

The U.S. Geological Survey said all three quakes were recorded Monday between 12:10 p.m. and 1:08 p.m.

The first was recorded about six miles north-northwest of Perry in Noble County, about 60 miles north of Oklahoma City. Geologists say the 2.6 magnitude earthquake occurred at a depth of about three miles.

Last year was a banner year for earthquakes in Oklahoma, but the state has recorded more magnitude-3.0 temblors in nine months than it did in 2014, Energy Wire’s Mike Soraghan reports.

State Rep. Mike Shelton (D-Oklahoma City)
Oklahoma House

An Oklahoma lawmaker says he plans to file legislation to require Oklahoma schools to have written plans and procedures for dealing with earthquakes.

Democratic Rep. Mike Shelton of Oklahoma City said Monday the training is vital to protect students, faculty, staff and visitors from earthquakes. Shelton says the bill is similar to one he filed in 2012 that died in a Republican-controlled House committee.

Lawrence Stasyszen, abbott of St. Gregory's Abbey, stands inside the monastery's condemned workshop in Shawnee, Okla. The monastery and nearby college are still reeling from millions in damage from a 5.7-magnitude quake that struck in 2011.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

In 2014, Oklahoma had more than three times as many earthquakes as California, and this year, the state is on track for even more. A lot of them are small, but some towns are seeing a quake almost every day, and seismologists warn that large and damaging earthquakes are becoming more likely.

The government in the Sooner State has only recently acknowledged the scope of the oil and gas industry’s role in the problem.

The Oklahoma Geological Survey recently revised its formal position on Oklahoma’s exponential surge in earthquake activity, acknowledging for the first time in a official public statement that most of the seismic activity recently recorded in the state was linked to oil and gas activity.

On the May 1 episode of Oklahoma News Report, Joe Wertz talked with OETA host Dick Pryor about the earthquake situation and what the formal acknowledgement means for the state going forward, and also detailed efforts by the U.S. Geological Survey to forecast the hazard posed by oil and gas-related earthquakes.

Since 2009, there’s been a drastic increase in the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma. Many people think it’s tied to an increase in oil and gas drilling, but due to the energy boom, state officials have been reluctant to draw a connection.

On Tuesday, state officials acknowledged the quakes are likely caused by wells used to dispose of wastewater from both traditional drilling methods, as well as hydraulic fracturing.

A magnitude-3.0 earthquake is small, but most people can feel it. Historically, Oklahoma got less than two of those a year, but in 2013 it became two a week.

It's only gotten more active since then — last year, the state had three times as many earthquakes as in the entire seismically active state of California.

The Oklahoma Geological Survey said Tuesday it is “very likely” that most of the state’s recent earthquakes were triggered by the subsurface injection of wastewater from oil and natural gas drilling operations.

Geologists have been studying the cause of hundreds of earthquakes that have shaken the homes and the nerves of residents in central and north-central Oklahoma, where the pace of oil and gas drilling has accelerated in recent years.

Tim Phillips /

More than a dozen small to moderate earthquakes have been recorded in Oklahoma since Friday afternoon, including one with a preliminary magnitude of 4.2 that also was felt in Kansas and Texas.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports the quake occurred at 8:21 a.m. Saturday 12 miles north of Crescent, about 45 miles north of Oklahoma City.

Residents about 270 miles north in Topeka, Kansas, and about 240 miles south in Dallas reported feeling the quake.

Logan County Sheriff's Sgt. Greg Valencia says there are no reports of damage or injury.