Investigate Link Between Oil Drilling and Earthquakes

Target: Oklahoma Geological Survey

Goal: Seriously examine a new report that suggests a 5.6 magnitude earthquake in 2011 in Oklahoma was the result of oil drilling and not a natural earthquake

An inquiry headed by university and federal scientists has concluded that a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that hit much of Oklahoma in 2011 was the result of manmade oil drilling, and was not a natural phenomenon. However, the Oklahoma Geological Survey continues to insist that the quake was natural. This is despite the highly unusual nature of the quake; earthquakes of that magnitude are exceedingly rare in the center of the American continent where Oklahoma is situated. The earthquake was largest ever recorded in Oklahoma.

The process that scientists believe is to blame for causing such an earthquake is the pumping of wastewater from oil drilling back down into oil wells more than a mile underground. The pumping of this water can then set off slight tremors which, in the case of the 2011 Oklahoma earthquake, can result in much larger and more dangerous earthquakes. The 2011 Oklahoma quake injured two people and damaged 14 buildings.

Other, smaller earthquakes have been linked to this process of wastewater pumping in Arkansas, Colorado, and Nevada, but none as powerful as this one. The U.S. Geological Survey had previously been dismissive of the overall risk of these practices, saying that although inducing an earthquake was possible, the likelihood was low and the severity of the quake was relatively insignificant.

The discovery that the Oklahoma earthquake was linked to wastewater pumping, however, calls this into question, because its magnitude was far greater than anything else thought to be manmade. What’s more, the controversial drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking relies on a method of wastewater pumping that is very similar to what caused the Oklahoma earthquake.

It is time to re-examine the practices of oil drillers with an eye toward preventing future manmade and avoidable earthquakes. But as long as the Oklahoma Geological Survey continues to insist that there is no evidence of a link between drilling and the earthquake, such a necessary re-think will be delayed.

Sign the petition below to demand the connection between oil drilling and earthquakes be taken seriously, especially by supposedly objective scientists like those at the Oklahoma Geological Survey.


Dear members of the Oklahoma Geological Survey,

A recent study undertaken by university researchers and the US Geological Survey has concluded that there are definite links between the practice of wastewater pumping in oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes. Specifically, they have blamed the unprecedented 2011 Oklahoma earthquake, which had a record-setting 5.6 magnitude, on such wastewater pumping.

In spite of this you continue to insist that the quake was caused by purely natural means. I am writing to ask you to examine your position and if need be order further inquiry. The risk of manmade earthquakes is too great, and too preventable, to ignore. I ask that you exercise true objectivity and neutrality and not consider the health of the fossil fuel industry of your state when making your judgement.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Dwight Burdette via Wikimedia

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  1. Ruth Rogers Ruth Rogers says:

    Please sign and share this petition.

  2. Nancy Crouse says:

    I always wondered about this link myself. So if it is proven what then?

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