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Oklahoma Hit By Its Strongest-Ever Recorded Quake 202

Posted by timothy
from the damage-reports-from-the-onion dept.
First time accepted submitter Wheelie_boy writes "No word yet on hell freezing over, but Oklahoma experienced a 5.6 magnitude earthquake early Sunday morning. This is the largest quake ever recorded in the state. Only minor damage and no casualties have been reported."
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Oklahoma Hit By Its Strongest-Ever Recorded Quake

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  • I'm in OK for business, and the quake got me out of bed last night.

    I grabbed clothes and rushed downstairs ready to get out of the building, if needed, but when I got down there no one else was panicking or anything, so I supposed I was the only one who over-reacted. It was about 11pm.

    It was pretty intense - I lived near San Diego for six years, and felt plenty of tremors, but the quake last night was the scariest I've felt. Possibly because I wasn't on the ground floor of the hotel.

    Other than that, it wasn't a big deal. No one was streaming from the hotel and there weren't throngs of people screaming. There were lots of people calling the front desk asking if there had been an accident (no one could believe that it was a quake).

    Interestingly, there was another quake the night before as well, a 4.2 (the guy at the front desk told me). That one didn't even wake me up though.

    • by tompaulco (629533)
      Honestly, earthquakes are beginning to be old hat for us here in Oklahoma. This 5.6 was the biggest ever, but there was a 4.7 just 20 hours earlier. According to USGS, we have had 26 earthquakes 2.7 on up in the last 48 hours. All within the same 20 mile radius.
      I grew up here in Oklahoma, and we never had an earthquake. The first earthquake I ever knew about in Oklahoma was in 2007. I barely recognized it for what it was. It seemed like there was a loud buzz and then the house just kind of went "whump" lik
  • If I had known moving to Tulsa would cause earthquakes I would have just come sooner.
  • by Gavin Scott (15916) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @11:35AM (#37965348)

    This is a good reminder that earthquakes do eventually occur in many places that we like to think of as earthquake-proof, even if they're rare.

    Having recently moved to the Chicago area from California, I find myself having to learn to live with the vague feeling of unease that's caused by the fact that the most popular building style here seems to be "big pile of bricks".

    If an earthquake of substantial size ever does hit you in an area where they are rare enough that there's no pressure to make building codes stronger, then chances are your odds of dying will be a lot greater than if you lived in California where the new buildings are all very safe and the old buildings have at least been tested a few times.

    So while living in the mid-west etc. greatly reduces your chance of experiencing a large earthquake, the reduction in risk for actually dying in an earthquake is probably not as large as people like to think.

    G.

    • by Gordonjcp (186804)

      You build to suit the prevailing conditions. Here on the west coast of Scotland, we don't build to withstand earthquakes but we do build to withstand regular 140mph winds.

      • by brunes69 (86786)

        This is totally true. California building codes would be totally useless in Chicago, where it is a lot more important that a building be able to withstand a raging blizzard at 30 below than it is an earthquake.

        Buildings in California that are fully up to code, would likely not last a single winter in the north. For one thing the way you do footings for an earthquake zone is totally different than how you do them in a frost-prone zone, and if you are trying to plan for both then things get complicated.

    • This is a good reminder that earthquakes do eventually occur in many places that we like to think of as earthquake-proof, even if they're rare.

      Especially if people are expending a lot of fracking [google.com] time in Oklahoma...

    • by tompaulco (629533)
      Having recently moved to the Chicago area from California, I find myself having to learn to live with the vague feeling of unease that's caused by the fact that the most popular building style here seems to be "big pile of bricks".
      And may I add to that "built on top of a swamp".
    • Look up "New Madrid Fault"...

  • by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin AT lunarworks DOT ca> on Sunday November 06, 2011 @11:37AM (#37965368) Homepage

    Are there sure it wasn't a stampede? Because I was under the assumption that only two things come from Oklahoma, and earthquakes aren't one of them.

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      "... and I've got horns."

      OK, I'm not really from OK.

    • by wmbetts (1306001)

      You're thinking of Texas.

      • by Mal-2 (675116)

        You're thinking of Texas.

        Reminds me of an old joke. Someone from the east coast is bound for Texas and stops for directions. They are given as follows:

        "Go west till you smell cow shit. That's Oklahoma. Then go south till you're standing in it. That's Texas."

  • i went to sleep about 9:45 and just before 11:00 PM i wake up to the house rattling, i thought it was a low flying helicopter looking for something so i turn over and go back to sleep, then this morning i see the earthquake news all over the place.

    i knew it could not be tanks rolling through the neighborhood because the sound was missing the metallic squeak that tanks have
  • by rabun_bike (905430) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @12:03PM (#37965576)
    It could be fracking or the storage of fracking fluids or it could just be basic earth geology. But it is hard to do a cause and effect on earthquakes. Only time will time if more, larger quakes become frequent and can be triangulated back to large operating drilling rigs.

    Arkansas isn't waiting to find out. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/07/27/arkansas-commission-votes-to-ban-wells/ [foxnews.com]
    • FUD. According to a geophysicist buddy, salt-water injection wells have been known to cause earthquakes due to lubrication of fault lines. He doesn't seem to think there's a link to hydrofracturing. I work in the oilfield, I don't think there's a lot of that kind of activity in that area. If you check the satellite maps you can verify that, wells stand out as bright square pads. We would be much more likely to have that happen in the area West of Oklahoma City, where there is LOTS of horizontal drillin
      • ...I don't think there's a lot of that kind of activity in that area. If you check the satellite maps you can verify that, wells stand out as bright square pads.

        You mean like this? [google.com] The location is from the USGS Earthquake Page [usgs.gov] showing the locations of the recent Oklahoma earthquakes. Is that a gas well right next to the quake location (that "bright square pad")? And could those be fault lines in the background?
        • You mean like this? [google.com] The location is from the USGS Earthquake Page [usgs.gov] showing the locations of the recent Oklahoma earthquakes. Is that a gas well right next to the quake location (that "bright square pad")? And could those be fault lines in the background?

          It's hard to tell exactly what's on it, but I see a pad with what looks to be four tanks just north of there. It looks like it has a few horizontal and vertical separators too. Major hydrofracturing activity in Oklahoma is centered around other places though.. McAlester, El Reno and Elk City.

          The kinds of wells that are known to be quake-causing, according to my geophysicist friend, are water disposal wells. These will have lots of tanks, often 10-20 tanks, for storage buffering. It will also conspicuo

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 06, 2011 @12:04PM (#37965580)

    Come now, nerds. All this talk and no science. How about something from the Oklahoma Geological Survey? They set out to disprove an earlier quake this year was the result of fracking. Instead, they found correlation:
    http://www.eenews.net/assets/2011/11/02/document_pm_01.pdf [eenews.net]

    Here is some commentary on the report:
    http://www.eenews.net/public/eenewspm/2011/11/02/1 [eenews.net]

    • by polymeris (902231)

      Some experimental geothermal projects in Switzerland & Australia were aborted because people panicked about the possible relationship to small quakes in the area of the hydraulic fracturing.

      Really a pity, IMO, a few smallish (Mw 4) quakes are a low price to pay for virtually unlimited and potentially very clean energy.

    • Come now, nerds. All this talk and no science. How about something from the Oklahoma Geological Survey? They set out to disprove an earlier quake this year was the result of fracking. Instead, they found correlation: http://www.eenews.net/assets/2011/11/02/document_pm_01.pdf [eenews.net]

      Here is some commentary on the report: http://www.eenews.net/public/eenewspm/2011/11/02/1 [eenews.net]

      I'm glad you posted this.. but did you read it?

      With his arm twisted, Holland would still not definitively tie the microquakes to fracturing at the well. It is fiendishly difficult to attribute earthquakes, given existing scientific uncertainties about why and when quakes are triggered. What is clear is that the quakes are not common: As Holland noted, firms have drilled 100,000 fracturing wells in Oklahoma, with three minor seismic events reported.

      The fracturing continued at the Picket well after the ear

  • I have a sinking feeling there's more where that came from....

  • I know the midwestern US is geologically stable - but a) earthquakes do happen there on occasion; and b) a 5.6 is amateur hour.

    Those of us on the west coast see a 5.6 quake as an oatmeal stirrer, at best. And ask the residents of Japan and Chile about magnitude 5.6 quakes - their response is probably analogous to asking a Denver resident about the Appalachian "mountains".

    • by Grave (8234)

      Because 5.6 is the largest ever recorded in the state, perhaps? Just because it's normal or boring to someone in another part of the world doesn't discount this as news. If 1/3 of the population of Europe were on the brink of starvation, would it be normal and un-newsworthy simply because there are countries in Africa where that (or worse) is normal?

      Using your logic, it can be argued that nothing is newsworthy here, simply because in all probability, everything interesting has already happened on a larger

      • by rubycodez (864176)
        Bur OK is seismically active, and has had plenty of quakes near 5 intensity in recorded history....this just isn't newsworthy, a slightly stronger than normal quake
        • Uh, how about a quake felt as far away as Texas, which doesn't have noticable earthquakes. The first time I've ever felt an earthquake was during this event last night, here in North Texas.

    • A shallow 5.6 in an area not accustomed to earthquakes? Plus the flat expanse of land in that area (waves travel baby)? Plus the brick-o-rama of buildings in that area?
      Yes, they are worked up about it. I wasn't there, but i would be willing to bet that THAT kind of earthquake felt substantially stronger (and was felt in a much wider area) than a similar energy release in the bay area.
    • by rts008 (812749)

      Those of us on the west coast see a 5.6 quake as an oatmeal stirrer, at best.

      I would say that's being generous. This one might have stirred your coffee. Maybe.
      The spring and summer thunderstorms and tornadoes we get every year shake the house more than this quake did.

      I live in Stillwater, OK, and was playing Fallout 3 when it occurred. I was at the point in the game where you accompany Liberty Prime on a mission to wipe out the Enclave at the Jefferson Memorial. (a lot of explosions in game)
      My first thought was, "Oh, I need to turn the sound down!", and paused the game.
      The rumbling

      • My first thought was, "Oh, I need to turn the sound down!", and paused the game. ...

        I think experiencing a magnitude 7.x-8+ quake would cause me to soil my shorts, while this 5.6 had me blaming my sub-woofer and all the mini-nukes exploding in the game. :-)

        Love it!

        I've been in a few noticeable earthquakes over the past 20 years (in western Washington state). The most recent one - the 2001 Nisqually quake (mag. 6.8) - kept the house oscillating back and forth for what seemed like several minutes (but was only about 45 seconds, apparently). It was very rhythmic and weird - my daughter and I were in a doorway, and she was so scared she refused to open her eyes (not sure how that helped though). I have to admit I wondered if the house was going to shake apart.

        One

  • Here's the official info on the quake from the USGS: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsus/Quakes/usb0006klz.php [usgs.gov]

    I'm in Norman, OK, and there was definitely some pretty good shaking here, although not enough to cause any real damage (it knocked a stack of dvd cases off of my dresser... not sure if that counts as "damage"). In the small towns closer to the epicenter there was certainly some damage, however. At least one highway was buckled in a spot, and there were apparently multiple instan
  • http://www.okgeosurvey1.gov/pages/home.php [okgeosurvey1.gov]

    That area of Oklahoma is not a big natural gas location or oil producing area that I know of. The quake was approximately 30 miles from Cushing, Oklahoma. The "Pipeline Crossroads of the world", a major hub in pipelines that connect the gulf coast to the interior. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cushing,_Oklahoma [wikipedia.org] No reported damage that I know of there.

    It was extremely amazing for someone who's never felt an earthquake like that. A slow rumbling to start, felt lik

  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @05:12PM (#37968138)
    I seriously thought the roof was about to come down.. I live in east Edmond, about 30 miles from the strike point. I've lived in OK for most of my life, and we haven't had earthquakes until the last couple years. I've been through several 4+ magnitude quakes the last 2 years, and I can't help but think this correlates pretty well to the recent ramp up of fracking in OK.
  • OK 3 km, Cal, 25 km Also type of ground type of fault All of these variable make magnitude vs damage unreliable.

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