Tulsa Geologist: There's No Mystery In Oklahoma Earthquakes

<p>For many of us, the idea of an earthquake in Central Oklahoma seems wrong. But a University of Tulsa geologist explains this weekend's earthquakes were 300 million years in the making.</p>

Sunday, November 6th 2011, 5:02 pm

By: News On 6

Editor's note: This story was posted in November, 2011. 

Oklahoma was rocked with its second earthquake in 24 hours. The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude 5.6 quake hit around 10:50 Saturday night and was centered near Sparks in Lincoln County.

How bad was the damage, and do scientists think it will happen again?

Saturday night's quake shook homes all over the state. Geologists say this weekend's event are nearly 300 million years in the making.

"It sounded almost like a freight train; it was just really weird," said Broken Arrow resident Corey Dittamore.

Corey Dittamore had quite the surprise after last night's earthquake when bricks fell of a nearly 16 foot long section above his garage.

Dan Bewley: Ever think that your home would be damaged by an earthquake?
Corey Dittamore: Not by an earthquake, maybe by a tornado but not by an earthquake.

He's not alone.

At the Prague Public Library, air ducts have fallen through the ceiling, and books and pictures frames are scattered about. In Sparks, 5 miles from the epicenter, a home is left ransacked - with cracks on the walls and broken glass covering the floor.

All from the second Oklahoma earthquake in less than 24 hours.

Dr. Bryan Tapp is a structural geologist at the University of Tulsa; basically he studies how rocks move beneath the earth's crust. He says Oklahoma has small earthquakes every day.

"We are still under a region that is trying to shift, but it is relatively slow," said Dr. Bryan Tapp, Ph.D.

Dr. Tapp says you can blame this on events that first happened 300 million years ago. He says when the Wichita, Arbuckle, and Ouachita Mountains were formed, the ground rose up. But just north of the Wichita and Ouachita Mountains the ground sunk and formed the Anadarko and Arkoma basins.

This action caused a fault line to form between the two basins, that fault line is where the epicenter to these large earthquakes is located. He says the earth is still trying to relieve pressure from those long ago geologic events. 

"So we just seem to be relaxing, just slightly, over time," he said.

One thing he's positive of: this mess was not caused by fracking.

"There's no way that this particular fault or this particular earthquake could have been activated by oil field activity; there's just no evidence of that," said Dr. Bryan Tapp, a structural geologist.

Dr. Tapp says we can expect some more earthquakes in the future but probably around the magnitude 3 range.

He would be surprised if we see another over five and is confident that we are not gearing up for the "big one."

11/6/2011 Related Story: More Aftershocks Sunday, After Oklahoma's Largest Earthquake Saturday
11/6/2011 Related Story: Paranormal Researches Catch Earthquake On Camera
11/5/2011 Related Story: Prague Residents Share Earthquake Stories

11/5/2011 Related Story: Prague Woman Picks Up The Pieces After Earthquake
11/5/2011 Related Story: 4.7 Magnitude Earthquake, Aftershocks Rumble Through Oklahoma


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