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Do weather conditions impact quakes?

From the ENE ongoing investigation: Who's at fault? series
  • 1 min to read
Earthquakes in Oklahoma

ENID, Okla. — Neither drought nor rain appear to have impacted the increase of earthquakes in the state, according to officials.

However, drought or rain can have an impact on earthquakes in certain areas, Oklahoma Geological Survey Director Jeremy Boak said.

“There are documented cases where a rapidly filled reservoir has induced seismicity underneath it. That has happened. It doesn’t look like an explanation for what’s going on in Oklahoma because we went from drought to very large amounts of rain and the earthquakes just kept on climbing,” Boak said. “There may have been some small earthquakes that were caused by this, but it’s not the source of this large upswing in seismicity in the state.”


Who's at fault? Scientists seek answers, as quakes increase

History of faults dates back millions of years

When it comes to earthquakes, only Alaska surpasses Okla.

U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist George Choy said rainwater normally will not penetrate deeper than the water table.

“Earthquakes nucleate much deeper at several kilometers — typically five to 10 kilometers for most induced earthquakes — beneath the surface. It is unlikely that rainwater can find faults that deep, at least not immediately,” he said. “I don’t know if anyone has correlated rain occurrence with epicenters.

“Note that in 2014 there were 585 earthquakes with (magnitudes greater than 3.0). On average, you could predict that there would be an earthquake any day of the year and you would be right. It also probably rains a lot and in many places.”

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