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7 Apr, 2014 19:03

Oklahoma breaks record with hundreds of earthquakes after fracking intensifies

Oklahoma breaks record with hundreds of earthquakes after fracking intensifies

A series of earthquakes over the weekend continued to break alarming records of seismic activity in Oklahoma, which some scientists say is linked to increased fracking operations in the state.

According to Reuters, six earthquakes struck central Oklahoma between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, including a 3.8 magnitude tremor that was recorded around 7:42 a.m. Prior to this quake, three others hit the area and “rocked houses” in multiple communities: one at a magnitude of 2.9, and two others at 2.6 and 2.6 magnitude.

The day before on Friday, March 4, meanwhile, a 3.4 magnitude quake in the same area was followed up by a 3.0 magnitude event in the evening.

Speaking with Reuters, seismologist Austin Holland of the Oklahoma Geological Survey said that not even four months into 2014, the state has already experienced more earthquakes (252) than it did the entirety of 2013 – itself a record-breaking year with 222 quakes recorded.

"We have already crushed last year's record for number of earthquakes," he said.

Additionally, Holland added, "We have had almost as many magnitude 3 and greater already in 2014 than we did for all of 2013.”

The spike in seismic activity has scientists concerned that the sharp rise in earthquakes is related to controversial oil drilling procedures such as fracking. This process – which consists of blasting highly pressurized water, sand, and other chemicals into layers of rock in an attempt to free oil and gas – has been connected to earthquake activity since wastewater is then pumped into underground wells that can cause friction near fault lines.

As noted in a recent report by the US Geological Survey, the number of earthquakes occurring in Oklahoma has risen to about 40 a year from 2009 - 2013, compared to three or fewer from 1975 - 2008. This data came alongside numbers for the rest of the United States as well, which saw a six-fold increase in earthquakes in 2011 when compared to 2000.

As RT reported in late March, state officials from Ohio, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas have initiated coordinated efforts to discuss strengthening regulations and standards regarding fracking operations, including possibly requiring oil companies to record the pressure in waste disposal wells every day instead of every month.