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Man-Made Earthquake In Oklahoma Is Being Investigated; Experts Look For Ways To Calm It Down

First Posted: Dec 02, 2016 04:34 AM EST
5.1 Magnitude Earthquake In Oklahoma
The region has seen a spike in earthquakes recently.
(Photo : CBS Evening News/YouTube Screenshot)

It was previously reported that man causes an earthquake by injecting the water waste underground. Now, researchers are investigating how to calm down these man-made phenomena.

According to the new study, injecting wastewater from gas and oil extraction into underground wells happened for decades in Oklahoma. Not even raising concerns over the induced seismicity. Thus, in 2009, there was an increased rate and volume injection, according to the report by NPR.

The researchers found that in 2015, the earthquake activity increased 900-folds compared to the past levels because of the underground pressure buildup from the injection.

The largest temblor to be recorded in Oklahoma is in September. A magnitude of 5.8 earthquakes shook the city of Pawnee according to the USGS. The Pawnee earthquake was linked to the state's increased of seismicity from wastewater injection.

The statistical model used in the study suggested that if wastewater injection will be limited, it could lead to the decrease in widely felt earthquakes measuring magnitude 3.0 or higher. In addition, Oklahoma could see a return of the state's regular seismicity levels in about five years.

The regulators in Oklahoma called for a 40 percent reduction in the volume of wastewater being injected this year. It will be the response to the increasing rise of earthquakes.

Also, the researchers found that the volume of wastewater injection is at its peak in 2015. The state experienced two or more magnitude 3.0 earthquakes per day. However, before 2009, the rate of earthquakes per year is about one in every year, according to Live Science.

A postdoctoral researcher from Standford University, Cornelius Langenbruch, said that the next phase of their research will measure the exact link between the wastewater injection and the pressure buildup underground.

Langenbruch said that "This is not the end of the story. What will be really important is to actually measure the pressure in the formation where wastewater is injected. Currently, there are no exact measurements of this pressure."

The study was published in the Journal Science Advances.

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