Drilling waste water pumped underground, 2011 through 2013

In millions of barrels

large map water key

Earthquakes of magnitude 3 or larger

2011 to Jan. 26, 2015

large map quakes key
all years map

2014 was a record year

Oklahoma saw a record number of earthquakes with a magnitude of 3 or larger in 2014.

chart

Note: 2015 data is through Jan. 26.

Drilling and earthquakes

As the volume of drilling waste pumped underground has grown, the number of earthquakes with magnitude 3 or higher has increased. In particular, as the drilling has intensified along the northern border, the quakes have followed. The Prague 5.6 magnitude quake in 2011 had one 4.8 magnitude foreshock and one 4.8 magnitude aftershock.

Drilling waste water pumped underground each year

In millions of barrels

small map water key

Earthquakes of magnitude 3 or larger

2011 to Jan. 26, 2015

large map quakes key large map quakes key
2011

Waste pumping:
860 million barrels
Earthquakes:
63

2011 map
2012

Waste pumping:
1.2 billion
Earthquakes:
34

2012 map
2013

Waste pumping:
1.5 billion
Earthquakes:
106

2013 map
2014

Waste-pumping data for 2014 is not yet available.
Earthquakes:
567

2014 map

Earthquake hotspot

In northern Oklahoma, Grant County had no earthquakes of magnitude 3 or higher from 2006 through 2012. But as drilling activity increased in that region and more waste was pumped underground, the county had eight serious quakes in 2013. The county had 139 quakes of at least magnitude 3 in 2014, including one of 4.6. In the first four weeks in 2015, the county has had 18 quakes with another 4.6-magnitude shock. The pattern of waste-pumping and earthquakes matches research that shows that the quakes occur near the pumping, but usually not in the same location.

grant county hotspot grant county hotspot

SOURCES: U.S. Geological Survey, Oklahoma Corporation Commission.