US Geological Survey releases 2016 earthquake forecast

The U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) released their inaugural one-year earthquake forecast on Monday which distinguishes between natural and man-made seismic activity, the latter primarily occurring in the U.S. south-central region.

Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas have the highest risk of human-induced earthquakes, specifically caused by waste-water from hydraulic fracturing being injected back in the ground, underneath aquifers.

Injecting water deep underground puts pressure on existing fault lines, causing the rock to slide which creates reverberations felt on the earth’s surface.

Most man-made earthquakes rate around a three-magnitude on the Richter scale. Larger ones have occurred, however, as in 2011 when 5.6-magnitude tremors were recorded in Oklahoma.

For the central U.S. region overall, earthquakes have increased 13-fold in the past decade. During the period between 1973 and 2008, 24 earthquakes were recorded on average per year of 3.0 or higher.

Since 2009, the central U.S. has had an average of 318 such earthquakes per year, and 1,010 in 2015 alone.

According to USGS, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas also have a relatively high-risk human-induced seismic activity in 2016.

Naturally occurring earthquakes in the U.S. are almost exclusive to the West Coast, where California sustains the highest risk.




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