Oklahoma-Oil Wells and Earthquakes                    
Cochise College                                                                                        
Geology Home Page 
EARTHQUAKES
Geology Exploration Using Google Earth  
Roger Weller, geology instructor 
(
wellerr@cochise.edu)
last edited:  3/22/18          

    
There has been a lot of excitement in the past few years about the rather sudden appearance of
a large number of earthquakes in a region that one would expect to be quiet, central Oklahoma. 
Several studies suggest that these earthquakes have a human origin: deep injection of waste water
from the fracking process lubricating ancient faults.


A quiet view of Oklahoma from Google Earth


    
The oil industry is very important to the economy of Oklahoma.  The following view represents the
location of approximately 25,000 well sites that still had equipment located at the site.  I visually located
and identified each individual well site.  Well sites that had been abandoned and the equipment removed
were not included this map.

     There were so many locations that the marking icons blurred together.




    
I recorded earthquake epicenters in Oklahoma from October 2012 to January 2016 on a daily basis.
The information was reported on the USGS website for earthquakes for the past week.  There are
approximately 2500 earthquake epicenters indicated on the following map.  During most of the time
period from 2012 to 1216, Oklahoma was the most active earthquake zone in the U.S., even more active
than California.



 

     What happens when the wells and epicenters are posted on the same map?  There is some overlap,
but there are areas with only wells and no earthquakes, but there are areas with many earthquakes and
few wells in the same vicinity.  Because of the high density of wells and earthquakes, it is difficult to see
the details of the pattern.


   


    
I love seeing actual data in order to draw my own conclusions.  Consequently,  I am presenting the oil
well and earthquake data on a county by county basis.


Oklahoma Counties with Significant Numbers of Oil Wells and/or Earthquakes
 

 

Alfalfa

Ellis

Lincoln

Pittsburg

Atoka

El Reno

Logan

Pontotoc

Beaver

Garfield

Love

Pottawotomie

Beckham

Garvin

Major

Seminole

Blaine

Grady

Marshall

Stephens

Cado

Grant

McClain

Texas

Carter

Harper

*Noble

Washita

Cleveland

Hughes

Okfuskee

Woods

Coal

Johnston

*Oklahoma

Woodward

Creek

Kay

Osage

 

Custer

Kingfisher

*Pawnee

 

Dewey

Kiowa

*Payne

 


     Those counties marked with an asterisks have earthquake
concentrations with few or no oil wells.

 


Just credit photos to Google Earth/R.Weller/Cochise College.
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