Earthquakes in Oklahoma

Another experience on the road….

Welcome back. I’ve been hanging my hat in Oklahoma City quite a lot lately and I’ll be telling you all about it in the coming weeks. When I am there, I usually stay northeast of Edmond, about four miles outside of town. A quiet place right on the city lake, it’s a perfect spot for me to catch what many people around here are going through and that is earthquakes. This past Thursday morning at roughly 9:15 an earthquake was reported by 74 people close to my location. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) it registered 3.1 on the Richter scale and the people I interviewed in the area said it just shook their plates a little bit. Even those closest to the center of the quake reported no damage.

I expect to be staying in this area quite a bit in the upcoming months so I have decided to join a new group of people who will be reporting on earthquakes across the state. This group will utilize a NewsOK mobile app to mark their location and report feeling an earthquake with either a PC or a mobile phone. Your location (which is kept anonymous) is mapped immediately. Those who have signed up will receive an alert about seismic activity in their area. Later you will also receive the official USGS report which will give the magnitude of the quake and mark its epicenter.

Getting involved, I did a little research on the word earthquake and learned that the real terminology is “seismic event’. There is also a lot of discussion as to whether these events are natural or manmade as many people here in Edmond believe.

Here’s a little info: a big seismic event, registering 5 or more is measured by seismometers and these events are monitored around the world. Smaller events like the ones happening in Edmond that are under 5 get read by the Richter magnitude scale. The shaking is measured on another scale known as the Mercalli scale. Underwater seismic events have caused tsunamis and can also cause landslides and volcanos on land. Certain parts of the world are more prone to earthquakes than others and in the United States Alaska holds the record for the most frequent and powerful events.

Reading up on the different types of land “faults” as they are called along with the magnitude of the events, it becomes obvious that each additional number that is registered on the scale adds thirtyfold to the amount of energy a quake releases and the potential damage it can cause. A lot of this is way beyond my education level so I won’t try to delve any deeper.

One thing I can tell you is that according to Wikipedia the energy released by an 8.6 magnitude seismic event is equal to ten thousand atomic bombs like the ones used in World War II. One of the largest recorded seismic events was a 9.5 quake which took place in Valdivia, Chile on May 22, 1960. In 1964 the U.S. had a 9.2 quake in Alaska at Prince William Sound. On December 26, 2004 a 9.0 event in Indonesia caused a tsunami that   killed over 230,000. These events also cause millions and even billions of dollars in damages. If one of those happened near me while here in Edmond, I don’t think you’d be reading about it in my column the following week.

With all that said, the Original Buffalo Dale is now a seismic event tracker and I will keep you up to date on this story  if anything “breaks “while I’m staying in the area. Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road.