U.S. Geology Maps Reveal Areas Vulnerable To Man-Made Quakes : The Two-Way : NPR

Large cracks in the sidewalk in Coyle, Okla., appeared after several earthquakes on Jan. 24.

J Pat Carter/Getty Images

March 29, 20165:03 AM ET
Heard on Morning Edition

Christopher Joyce

Some parts of Oklahoma and Texas now have about the same risk of an earthquake as parts of California, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The big difference is, the quakes in Oklahoma and Texas are “induced” — they’re caused by oil and gas operations that pump wastewater down into underground wells.

USGS scientists have now published the first maps of these new quake zones, and they’re an eye-opener. An eye-opener because 7 million people are now, suddenly, living in quake zones. There are 21 hot spots where the quakes are concentrated; they’re in places where, historically, noticeable earthquakes were rare: Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Ohio and Alabama have also experienced some induced quakes.

USGS Forecast For Damage from Natural And Induced Earthquakes In 2016


Petersen, M.D., Mueller, C.S., Moschetti, M.P., Hoover, S.M., Llenos, A.L., Ellsworth, W.L., Michael, A.J., Rubinstein, J.L., McGarr, A.F., and Rukstales, K.S., 2016, 2016 One-year seismic hazard forecast for the Central and Eastern United States from induced and natural earthquakes: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1035, 52 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161035.

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