Environment

This Morning's Earthquake in Oklahoma Is Disturbing

A 5.6 magnitude earthquake rattled people in six states around 7:00 a.m. local time on Saturday. It originated near Pawnee, Oklahoma, but it was felt in Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, and multiple other states.

Before 2008, Oklahoma typically experienced one or two noticeable earthquakes per year. Now the state experiences hundreds of earthquakes each year. The reason for Oklahoma's many earthquakes is believed to be tied to the hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," industry. Fracking is a drilling technique used to obtain natural gas, and the process produces a lot of wastewater, the disposal of which is thought to cause the quakes. The water allegedly causes tectonic plates to slip by reducing friction.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is investigating the disposal wells where the wastewater is injected near Pawnee. The earthquake was one of Oklahoma's largest earthquakes on record, but no serious injuries have been reported. State regulators have been asking that hydraulic fracturing companies reduce the amount of wastewater being injected into the ground, but earthquakes have continued to be an issue.

Oklahoma is currently experiencing 2.5 earthquakes of magnitude three or larger earthquakes per day, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey. Reports have indicated fracking is the main reason the number of earthquakes is increasing.