A pair of earthquake rattled an area in Oklahoma and Kansas early this morning, shaking many people out of bed. Thus far there are no reports of serious damage, although the Associated Press reports that thousands of homes in the affected area lost power.
First earthquake measured at 4.3
The U.S. Geological Survey gave the first earthquake a preliminary magnitude of 4.1 but later upgraded it to 4.3. It hit at 5:39 a.m. local time this morning, and its epicenter was about five miles east-northeast of Edmond, Okla. A second earthquake measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale hit the same area about ten minutes after the first one.
Officials in Edmond said approximately 4,400 businesses and homes were without power immediately following the earthquake. However, the local utility company was able to restore power within an hour and a half of the quake.
Only minor damage reported for now
Although no reports of major damage have come in to local media outlets, OKC Fox is reporting that some people are reporting some minor damage like pictures falling off the walls and items being rattled off of shells. At least one person in the affected area reports that the earthquake broke the mirror in his daughter’s room.
Also a liquor store reports that it knocked many bottles off its shelves, so a massive cleanup effort will be underway there to pick up all the glass and clean up the spilled alcohol. Local media report that the liquor store is located near the quakes’ epicenter.
Oklahomans take to Twitter
As is usually the case with any major event, people who experienced it began tweeting about it, providing a variety of perspectives and experiences, all in one place. Twitter has proven time and time again to be a source of breaking news when anything of note happens. Here are some of the tweets that were posted following the two earthquakes in Oklahoma and Kansas:
Who needs an alarm when you have a natural Oklahoma alarm clock. Shook me out of my bed #earthquake @kfor
— Griffin Lee (@Griffin_Lee) December 29, 2015
Lived in California for 4 years and just felt the strongest earthquake in my life….in Oklahoma
— Michael McCormack (@micmac123) December 28, 2015
That wasn’t an earthquake, Oklahoma. It was an aftershock from Russell Westbrook’s 4th Quarter jam. #NBAvote https://t.co/aZFUbre9Je
— Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) December 28, 2015
Numerous Twitter users observed that today’s quakes accompanied a recent spate of severe weather in Oklahoma:
Earthquake, blizzard, flood, wind. Is Oklahoma weather God’s practical joke?
— Madi Alexander (@MadiLAlexander) December 28, 2015
This past week Oklahoma has had 30-70 degree days, floods, ice, tornadoes & an earthquake Seasons do not exist anymore
— mik (@Mikeeetaa) December 27, 2015
Today in Oklahoma there was -sun -rain -snow -thunder -lighting -tornado warning -flood warning -earthquake so pic.twitter.com/beCwLA8efX
— LeBrax James (@LeBraxJames) December 28, 2015
ESPN’s Jake Trotter also observed that there was also severe weather going on in the region at the time of the earthquakes:
Sounds like it was the old earthquake-snowstorm combo in Oklahoma this morning.
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) December 29, 2015
The ice storm snapped some power poles in half, knocking out power to thousands of homes and businesses in the northwestern part of Oklahoma City. Weather Channel meteorologist Ari Sarsalri observed that their radar picked up birds taking to the skies to flee the earthquake:
Radar picked up birds taking flight after an #earthquake in #Oklahoma this morning #okquake h/t @LaceySwope pic.twitter.com/vBVtK5Nde4
— Ari Sarsalari (@AriWeather) December 29, 2015
Oklahoma sees uptick in earthquakes
Recently Oklahoma has seen a huge uptick in the number of earthquakes there over the last hundred years. Just yesterday, the state was rocked by another smaller quake measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, according to the USGS. So far over 5,000 quakes have been recorded this year, but in the past, the state had almost no earthquakes. However, last year broke the previous record, and this year is on track to set yet another new record for the number of earthquakes.
ABC News and NPR reported that the uptick is being blamed on the gas and oil production industry in the area as wastewater is being injected underground for the production. As a result, regulators in the state have been cutting back on the volume and shutting down some disposal wells there. The governor’s office said recently that approximately 1.5 billion barrels of wastewater were injected underground in Oklahoma last year.
The wastewater is produced by the fuel production industry, and to keep it from contaminating the drinking water, oil companies inject it into wells underground.
Energy industry endangered by quakes
The state is one of the most important areas for gas and oil production in the U.S., and the increase in the number of earthquakes seems to be endangering the energy industry there, according to NPR, even though the energy industry is being blamed for them. For now anyway, the earthquakes have only triggered inspections but have not caused any serious problems at the massive fuel tank farms in the area.
Homeland Security is concerned about the danger to the energy industry, mostly about the tanks, a USGS research geophysicist told NPR. The fault lines that have formed under the area may see more rattling in the future, and a major earthquake that damages the tank forms on top of those fault lines could seriously disrupt the energy market in the U.S.