Map of the Day: What do San Francisco and Oklahoma City Have in Common?

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Here is today’s mystery map. Can you guess what it is?

This map comes from a team of researchers writing in Seismological Research Letters, and it shows the 2017 earthquake risk in various parts of the country. You probably aren’t surprised to see either California or Seattle in dark orange. If you’re familiar with the New Madrid fault, you’re not surprised by the blotch on the border of Arkansas and Tennessee. But Oklahoma City?

Yep. It’s all because of fracking:

Most of the induced earthquake activity in the central and eastern United States (CEUS) is caused by deep wastewater disposal. Injected wastewater causes pressure changes that can weaken (unclamp) a fault and therefore bring it closer to failure. Seismicity rates in Oklahoma increased exponentially beginning in 2009.

….In Oklahoma, during 2016, a 13 February [magnitude] 5.1 earthquake near Fairview, a 3 September magnitude 5.8 earthquake near Pawnee, and a 7 November magnitude 5.0 earthquake near Cushing caused damaging ground shaking. These damaging events are thought to be the result of  wastewater injection, and the potential for future large earthquakes causes concern to officials responsible for public safety and welfare.

That magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Pawnee is the largest ever recorded in Oklahoma. However, thanks partly to reduced demand for oil and partly to new regulations, the earthquake risk in Oklahoma has decreased a bit in the past year. For now, though, it’s still pretty high. I knew all about the seismic danger from fracking before I read this, but I didn’t realize that, for now anyway, Oklahoma City is literally as earthquake prone as San Francisco.

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate