Researchers Looking Into Cause Of Recent Earthquake Spike Near Blanchard

Tuesday, July 19th 2016, 2:23 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

The Oklahoma Geological Survey is investigating what may have been causing the recent earthquake spike in Blanchard, and they don’t believe it’s the usual suspects.

The town of Blanchard had been pretty much immune to earthquakes.

“They never happen out here, never,” said Janine Sotomayor, who lives in Blanchard. “That’s the one thing we are spared from.”

But on July 7, the ground started shaking.

“The first one we heard was more of a loud clap, then Friday we had one again,” City Manager Robert Floyd told News 9 when News 9 reported on the earthquakes last Wednesday.

According to the OGS, they had 11 earthquakes during a six day period. The largest was a magnitude of 3.4. Then, they stopped as suddenly as they started.

“We’re a little mystified about what the cause is,” said Jeremy Boak, Oklahoma Geological Survey director.

Boak said injection wells are typically to blame for Oklahoma earthquakes, but the closest one is more than 20 miles away.

“I think we have to give serious consideration to the possibility that these could be earthquakes that have to do with a hydraulic fracturing job triggering a small fault in the area and producing these smaller earthquakes,” he said.

Folks around Blanchard believed a new oil well within in the city limits could be the culprit, but Boak said that's not the case since the earthquakes were centered closer to Dibble.

Right now, the OGS is working with oil companies drilling in the area to investigate further. He said those companies are cooperating.

If the OGS does determine the earthquakes were caused by the actual fracking process it would be very unusual.

Boak said there are a few cases in British Columbia, a handful of possible ones in Ohio, one small one in Pennsylvania, and evidence of one other possibly in Oklahoma.

“It’s quite rare,” he said.

Boak said earthquakes caused by fracking are usually smaller and there are fewer.

But if they do determine that fracking caused these earthquakes, they would work with the state corporation commission to come up with a plan to keep it from happening in the future.