A new study in the journal Geology is the latest to tie a string of unusual earthquakes, in this case, in central Oklahoma, to the injection of wastewater deep underground. Researchers now say that the magnitude 5.7 earthquake near Prague, Okla., on Nov. 6, 2011, may also be the largest ever linked to wastewater injection. Felt as far off as Milwaukee, more than 800 miles away, the quake—the biggest ever recorded in Oklahoma—destroyed 14 homes, buckled a federal highway and left two people injured. Small earthquakes continue to be recorded in the area. The study appeared today in the journal's early online edition.
I've never once seen it raised as a possibility in the press, but I have always wondered if the 2004 tsunami that killed a quarter of a million people was set off by oil and gas exploration. There is a great deal of extraction going on in the immediate vicinity. But literally, never once did I see a single instance of speculation in the news media about the potential that this disaster could have been unwittingly caused by man.
Human activities are capable of massive, horrific unintended consequences. There is a huge amount of money to be made in extractive industries, and very little profit margin in ensuring the public's safety. Fortunately, the self interest of NYC which relies on upstate water for our very existence provides a counterbalance to what is usually a massively stacked deck in favor of exploitation.