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OGS director says oil and gas activity to blame for quakes

The Oklahoma Geological Survey logo posted on a window outside the main office on the OU Campus. (Keaton Fox/KOKH)

The director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey says oil and gas activity is the likely culprit for the recent exponential increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma.

Jeremy Boak started as the director of the OGS in the early fall and says the political issues that played out are gone, now that the official stance of the department is oil and gas is causing the quakes.

He says that there is clear evidence to show a correlation between a well's injection of wastewater and an increase in earthquakes.

"There still are a few other alternatives and things that may be contributory to this," Boak said. "It's still pretty hard to explain all the earthquakes we're seeing."

"A 600 fold increase in earthquakes? That's really unusual."

Making that clear takes some of the recent political controversy out of the office and on someone else's shoulders. That controversy included what appeared to be major players in the oil and gas industry trying to influence research by the OGS.

But the OGS' still has a number of open positions needed filling, though significantly smaller than the number of earthquakes recently.

Add into that the swinging ax of budget cuts.

"I am looking at the future and saying, okay when the drought comes back and we need someone working on that, are we going to be able to hire? It's some nervousness. I try not to second guess the budget process and get too cranky about it because everyone is going to be hurting," Boak said.

For an office designed originally to handle a few dozen quakes a year---now handling thousands---Boak says they're doing the best with what they have.

But he says agrees with other warnings---the big one is likely and you should prepare now.

"I don't think we're very likely to have a magnitude 6 earthquake, which would be a pretty big earthquake, but I wouldn't be surprised to have a 5."

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