Earthquakes on the rise; scientists warn of larger quake possibilities


    While the actual quakes may be centered just north of Oklahoma City, the state capitol has been the epicenter lately.This study held by Oklahoma lawmakers was looking into the connection between oil and gas activity and earthquakes."It looks like someone hit our county with a shotgun with as many holes that are being punched in payne county with hydraulic fracturing and injection wells," said one speaker.It's been such a dramatic increase the state and seismologists like Austin Holland can barely keep up.With 4,600 quakes this year alone so far, it averages to 14 quakes a day."It's pretty remarkable how many significant earthquakes we've had," Holland said.While the state's biggest quake remains at a 5.6 that hit Prague back in 2011, large quakes are happening more often. Holland says the trend doesn't bode well for the state."It is concerning, just for one reason, the more small and moderate sized earthquakes we have, the more likely we are to have a larger, potentially damaging earthquake, so as these earthquakes continue at this rate, we become more and more likely to have a significant earthquake," Holland said.It's something the United State Geological Survey is tracking as well.Seismologist Robert Williams it's something they're tracking specifically -- watching for any sign the next big one is coming, but says that's tricky."We really don't know the behavior and really can't predict the behavior," Williams said.While scientists say they obviously cant predict an exact time or size of quakes, they say studying quakes that have happened and their patterns help predict patterns of future quakes.And Oklahoma has given them plenty to work with."We want to be able to use these different patterns of earthquakes and timing to get a sense of the range of possibilities and be able to, make estimates and probabilities of earthquakes to occur in the future," Williams said.

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