Beginning in 2015, earthquakes in Oklahoma began to be linked with increased injections of water produced from oil and gas wells. State regulatory authorities were slow to react. Operators of large injection wells like Harold Hamm and his Continental Resources pushed back, pressuring the University of Oklahoma to dismiss scientists who were studying links between disposal wells and earthquakes. But the State eventually began monitoring seismic events in earnest, and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission began to order the shut-down of injection wells. In September 2016 the Commission and the EPA ordered 54 disposal wells in Osage County shut in after a magnitude 5.6 quake on September 3. See Oklahoma’s interactive map displaying seismic events, here. The image below shows the number and intensity of earthquakes north of Oklahoma City in 2015:
Below are the quakes to date in the same area in 2017:
The Texas Railroad Commission was also slow to react to quakes initially showing up around the Dallas-Fort Worth area after a study by Southern Methodist University concluded that the quakes around Azle, Texas “most likely” were caused by injection wells. . In 2015, the Commission held two show-cause hearings to determine whether two disposal wells near Azel were the cause of earthquakes in the area. The Commission concluded that there was not a connection.
Also in 2015, the Texas Legislature funded an earthquake study with a $4.4 million appropriation, to install monitoring equipment and model reservoir behavior. That study, headed by UT’s Bureau of Economic Geology, has now finished installation of the state’s monitoring network of 40 permanent monitoring stations, called TexNet. UT has created a similar interactive site showing quake activity in Texas detected by its monitoring stations. Here are the TexNet stations around DFW:
The TexNet site only has earthquake data back to 1/1/17. Below is the site’s depiction of quakes so far this year around DFW, all 3.0 magnitude or less:
There has been significant seismic activity in the Permian this year, particularly around the town of Pecos and the Toro gas field in Reeves County: