FEMA Classifies Southwest Oklahoma as Significant Earthquake Risk
While earthquakes in the Sooner State don't make headlines quite like they used to, FEMA has shifted the focused area of risk into the Southwest part of the state.
For a very long time, Northern and Northwestern Oklahoma have been the earthquake hotspots in the Sooner State. There have been literally thousands of earthquakes in the state, and more specifically across that specific area since the 1890s.
Oddly enough, while they've made big and bold headlines in recent years, Oklahoma averages hundreds of seismic events each year and has throughout the historic scientific record... but those rookie numbers got a big increase about a decade ago.
An event now known as the "Oklahoma Earthquake Swarms" started in 2009 and the better part of a decade. It was a period when earthquakes seemingly struck nearly every day in Northwest Oklahoma.
Many scientific sources laid the blame at the feet of the oil industry. Modern hydraulic fracturing (oil fracking) was literally causing earthquakes according to popular belief... but fracking had practically nothing to do with it. Even the US Geologic Service says it was more than likely the wastewater injection wells that increased the seismic activity, but as regulations and practices have changed, the averages are closer to normal these days.
Here is a map detailing the last 30 days of earthquakes as of 2/7/2023.
As you can see, the majority of Oklahoma earthquakes still happen in the Northern and Northwestern parts of the state. It's been this way for years and years as indicated by this old FEMA Earthquake Risk map from 2016...
... but since the "earthquake swarm" has seemingly ended, the forecast for potential quake damage has shifted into Southwest Oklahoma even though most Sooner State quakes occur in NWOK... Why?
Odds are, it's the Meer's Fault line.
There are faults all across this great country, and most of them trace along mountainous corridors. While there are a few dozen fault lines in SWOK, the Meer's Fault is the one science keeps a close eye on.
If you've ever been to Meer's Restaurant, you've probably seen the seismograph there. It wasn't placed there as a tourist attraction, it measures seismic activity that does happen... In fact, a 4.2-magnitude quake hit in 1998 that would be super-memorable in the minds of anyone that was here... but it's little tremors for the most part day to day.
Perhaps the US Geologic Service and FEMA know something the rest of us don't in SWOK. Only time will tell.