Middle America Is Experiencing a Massive Increase in Earthquakes

Middle America Earthquake ZoneAlexis Madrigal writes on the Atlantic:

Earthquakes are striking the heartland from Alabama to Montana at an unprecedented rate — and human activity is probably to blame.

A new United States Geological Survey study has found that middle America between Alabama and Montana is experiencing an “unprecedented” and “almost certainly manmade” increase in earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. In 2011, there were 134 events of that size. That’s six times more than were normally seen during the 20th century.

While the changes in the area’s seismicity began in 2001, the trend has really accelerated since 2009, the geologists note. That happens to coincide with increased oil and gas production using new extraction techniques in some parts of the area.

The new work is being presented at the Seismology Society of America’s conference later this month. An abstract for the presentation is available online. In some regions, the increase in earthquakes is even greater than six fold. For example, in Oklahoma over the past half-century, there were an average of 1.2 quakes of greater than 3.0 magnitude per year. Since 2009, there have been more than 25 per year…

Read More: Atlantic

16 Comments on "Middle America Is Experiencing a Massive Increase in Earthquakes"

  1. I’d like to see this map overlayed with a map of active or recent fracking operations.

    • a lot of it is fracking
      but a good deal of it is also seismic activity around the edges of Laurentia
      (The North American craton: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurentia)
      the edges of which are part of the greater Ring of Fire earthquake zone
      on which was created last years Japanese tsunami

  2. Jaime Yarbrough | Apr 7, 2012 at 11:52 pm |

    Spot on Zenc. I would also like to see the global increase if any with specific areas related to this area (this is because I have begun to focus on the area to the east of Madagascar whose P-wave travel around to just off the coast of California – an already fragile tectonic region – everything is connected to everything else regardless of expert ‘beliefs’ in my book ) 

  3. Marx_was_wrong | Apr 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm |

    correlation does not necessarily imply causation. 

    • I must remember that next time you label everything that’s not
      U.S.-style conservatism to be an offshoot of Marxism and blame it for
      all the world’s ills.

  4. Mamagriff50 | Apr 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm |

    There seems to be increased seismic activity everywhere. What about the “Polar shift”?

  5. saint_al | Apr 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

    /would more likely blame the New Madrid fault line. 

  6. emperorreagan | Apr 13, 2012 at 9:43 am |

    Maybe all that land can just sink and make a pretty sweet lake.

  7. JosephConrad | Apr 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm |

    Fracking will expand across the Mid West and trigger a major earthquake up and down the Mississippi. 

  8.   Extracting oil, coal, fracking and other materials weakens the earths crust.  This could trigger volcanic activity  at yosemite state park

  9. If we set off earthquakes now, does that mean there will be fewer later? There must be only a certain amount of potential energy stored in a fault at once. Maybe we could deliberately set off enough small earthquakes to prevent large ones.  Of course, this would more useful in a place that actually has big earthquakes. Not in the midwest.

  10. They’re all Republican states?  What are the chances..

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