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Disposal Well Shutdown After Possibly Triggering Earthquakes

Love County EarthquakesA disposal well in Love County was shutdown last week after it was suggested by a state seismologist that it may have triggered an earthquake swarm in the area in September.

The well is located near Marietta and is a new well that started on September 3rd. The earthquakes started two weeks later.

“The Oklahoma Corporation Commission last week ordered the well operation reduced to less than 5 percent of its designed capacity. The operator then shut in the well because it was not economic at the reduced rates, commission spokesman Matt Skinner said.” –Love County Well Potentially Linked to Earthquakes, NewsOK

The geological survey is continuing its investigation. Austin Holland, a seismologist at the Oklahoma Geological Survey and author of the Love County report, still needs more information to be sure of the earthquakes cause.

“There are states where at this point the well would have been shut in. But we know earthquakes occur naturally in Oklahoma. We need to rule out natural occurrences as a possibility.”  –Love County Well Potentially Linked to Earthquakes, NewsOK

Past studies have linked Oklahoma’s increase in earthquakes to disposal wells. One study even linked Oklahoma’s largest earthquake, back in November of 2011, to disposal wells. As these studies continue to find links many Oklahomans are worried about the damage these earthquakes may cause. The Love County earthquakes did some damage to homes, including causing rocks to fall from a chimney.

More studies are still needed for us to know how disposal wells are impacting our increase in earthquakes and how much of a threat it really is. It is not clear when the Love County disposal well will be functioning again. You can find the Preliminary Analysis of the 2013 Love County Earthquake Swarm, on StateImpact Oklahoma.

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Map Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
Department of the Interior/USGS


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Lisa Sharp is the founder of Green Oklahoma. She is passionate about the environment and improving Oklahoma for future generations. She also writes on her personal blog Retro Housewife Goes Green.

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