Human-caused Earthquakes Endanger 7 Million People In US

Human-caused Earthquakes Endanger 7 Million People In US
Earthquake Response by the U.S. Navy ox News Insider / Flickr CC BY 2.0

A disastrous earthquake, one that may occur as a result of human activities like wastewater disposal from gas production, may affect as many as seven million American residents in central and eastern United States.


An earthquake hazard map, published for the first time by the US Geological Survey on Monday, elaborates and notes the potential sites that could be struck by earthquakes – both natural and human induced. The study published along with the map says that people in parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Arkansas are at high risk of human induced earthquakes in the upcoming year. The map can be viewed here.

North central Oklahoma and southern Kansas have been pointed out as areas where the most significant damage could be caused, National Geographic notes. Here, there is as much as 5 to 12 percent possibility of occurrence of earthquakes per year. The intensity of the tremors can cause buildings to crack and collapse.

The wastewater injunction in certain parts of Oklahoma has escalated by 5 to 10 times. Between 1970 and 2009, earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 and higher increased from being a few to 100; and the same number reached an astounding 600 in 2014, and 907 in 2015. In 2011, the state’s largest earthquake was recorded – measuring 5.6, it brought down chimneys and resulted in an injury and property damage lawsuit.

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Lead author Mark Petersen, who is also the chief of the agency’s National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project, said, “We want to help people understand how much concern they should have with these earthquakes.”

Meanwhile, the largest population at risk of potential earthquakes is in Texas.

“In the past five years, the USGS has documented high shaking and damage in areas of these six states, mostly from induced earthquakes,” Petersen added. “Furthermore, the USGS Did You Feel It? website has archived tens of thousands of reports from the public who experienced shaking in those states, including about 1,500 reports of strong shaking or damage.”

According to CBS News, an average of 24 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or higher per year struck between the years of 1973 and 2008. The same statistic rose to an average of 318 earthquakes per year between 2009 and 2015. Last year, the same was recorded at 1,010 earthquakes.

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