KOCO viewer shares images of quake damage
KOCO 5 News

5.1 Earthquake Shakes Oklahoma Homes—Scientists Say Wastewater Injection to Blame

The latest quake is the fourth-strongest the state's ever had.

Large earthquakes are generally more of a west coast and Hawaii occurrence, but they also happen elsewhere. One earthquake shook windows, doors, and rearranged people's wall decor throughout Oklahoma. The 5.1 earthquake hit the state close to midnight on Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was the fourth-strongest quake the state has seen in recent years.

Oklahoma wasn't the only state affected by the initial rumbles and its aftershocks. Residents in Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, and parts of Texas. Tremors continued in the state through Tuesday with a 2.5- magnitude aftershock, concerning residents and leaving seismologists searching for answers.

A few residents even captured the rumbles on camera. Carrie Sandlee sent in a video to local outlet KOCO 5 showing her living room transformed from a tranquil scene to shaking jumble as the rattling and rumbling ensued. Stacia Stanberry shared pictures of the mess the quake left behind with the outlet. The photos show her kitchen cabinet doors flung open with items littering the ground, presumably from her countertops and cabinet shelves.

Another resident was live streaming on X when the shaking began, sharing the natural phenomenon with his viewers. The video shows his bedroom beginning to shake, with rattles heard in the background. The X user's voice can be heard saying, "We're having an earthquake. We're having and earthquake." However, there wasn't any visible damage.

KOCO reporters spoke with a state's seismologist, Jake Walter, who said they aren't sure what caused the quake. But, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission slowly reduced all operations at wastewater injection well sites within a 10-mile radius of the epicenter of the quake, Prague.

"It also occurred nearly in the same location as a 2011 magnitude 5.7 earthquake. The scientific community largely agrees that wastewater disposal contributed to the presence of seismicity for the 2011 earthquake," Walter said to the KOCO 5 reporters.

The OCC said that shutting down operations is an "initial response" to the movement. However it may be related to the wastewater injections. The remnants of drilling fluids are injected into the ground, possibly activating faults within the earth's crust, said Nick Hayman, the director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey to U.S. News.

"The problem is because you're talking about many areas injecting fluids, and many faults," Hayman said to the outlet. "It's very difficult when there's an earthquake to know exactly what caused it."

On average, operators are disposing of 10,000 barrels of wastewater from six wells a day in the 30 days prior to the quake, according to Matt Skinner, spokesperson with the OCC. While it may seem like a lot, the numbers in 2010 were much higher with an average of 50,000 barrels daily. When seismic activity began to pick up, the commission reduced the load being injected into the fault lines.

Thankfully, there were no injuries with this quake and the overall fame was minimal.

READ MORE: Back-to-Back Earthquakes Shake Yellowstone: Should Visitors Be Worried?