2009 Record Year for Oklahoma Earthquakes

A lot of people are on edge in eastern Oklahoma County following a series of recent earthquakes.

Monday, December 14th 2009, 5:29 pm

By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A lot of people are on edge in eastern Oklahoma County following a series of recent earthquakes.

The latest happened just Sunday, but is it a sign of something more serious to come?

According to the Oklahoma Geological Survey 2009 has been a record year for earthquakes in Oklahoma County. But the experts say these small quakes may actually be a good thing.

The most recent quake measured 3.4 on the Richter scale and it could be felt for miles. It hit the small town of Jones at about 2:38 a.m. Sunday. It awoke Brett Ramsey and his family.

"The floor shakes, the bed shakes, the walls shakes, we have not experienced or found any damage ourselves," Ramsey said.

Ramsey has his business in Jones and lives about a mile from the epicenter. He and his coworkers are quickly becoming experts on the seismic activity.

"We try to keep track of where they're at around us and, oddly enough, we're too close to all of them," Ramsey said.

They're not imagining things. According to the Oklahoma Geological Survey this has been the most active year on record for earthquakes in Oklahoma County since 1889. This year's 22 quakes so far are more than the past 120 years combined. But the experts aren't sure what's going on.

"It's similar to what we would call an earthquake swarm, a very complicated fault zone in the deep subsurface produces an earthquake and then relocates and redistributes the stresses in that fault zone," Dr. Ken Luza with the Oklahoma Geological Survey said.

Usually this lasts only a few days. But Luza says the smaller quakes don't mean something bigger is coming and may actually be preventing a larger quake.

"Sometimes it takes hundreds of years, sometimes thousands of years, to build up enough energy and in order to be released and produce an earthquake and usually when this happens you get a fairly substantial earthquake," Ramsey said.

But the people living close to ground zero aren't taking any chances; some are actually buying earthquake insurance.

"Thirty dollars a year is what I've been told to add insurance coverage to your policy if you're a homeowner," Ramsey said.

The Geological Survey says the earthquakes should subside in a couple of months.

The largest quake to hit Oklahoma was the El Reno quake of 1952. It measured 5.5, put a crack in the state Capitol building and could be felt as far away as Iowa.

Report feeling an earthquake on the Oklahoma Geological Survey Web site.


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