The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

April 7, 2014

Magnitude-4.0 quake rocks central Oklahoma

LANGSTON, Okla. — A magnitude-4.0 earthquake rocked central Oklahoma on Monday, shaking buildings and leaving residents once again wondering what is causing all the seismic activity.

Earthquakes have become increasingly common in Oklahoma in the past few years. Monday’s earthquake struck just after 11 a.m. and was centered near Langston with a preliminary depth of 3 miles, said Austin Holland, a seismologist with Oklahoma Geological Survey. The temblor was felt widely through the central part of the state, including in Oklahoma City, where Mayor Mick Cornett asked via Twitter who felt the quake. There were no immediate reports of damage.

Several people in Enid reported on Facebook as having felt the quake, too.

Oklahoma Geological Survey reported the earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 4.3. U.S. Geological Survey, however, later reported a 4.0 magnitude. Quake magnitudes often are revised after data are reviewed.

A 3.5 magnitude quake was registered at 10:24 p.m. Sunday near Cherokee.

It was centered 8 miles east-northeast of Cherokee, about 34 miles north-northwest of Enid. It was recorded at a depth of nearly 5 miles.

Langston has been the site of several earthquakes over the past few months. Three hit over the weekend, including one that the USGS measured as a magnitude 4.0, and two smaller ones struck Monday afternoon.

“I thought it was going to shake my house down to the ground,” Charlene Meeks said.

Meeks, CEO of Langston Chamber of Commerce, said she was digging clothes out of her closet to donate to her church when Sunday’s quake struck shortly before 10 a.m. “It almost scared me to death,” she said.

Langston Police Chief Jonathan Hallmark said he used to receive calls about the quakes regularly but they have dropped off over time.

“I think everybody is pretty much used to them now,” he said.

Oklahoma has had 133 quakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater in the last 30 days. Geologists say earthquakes in the 2.5- to 3-magnitude range generally are the smallest felt by humans. Damage is not likely in earthquakes below magnitude 4.0.

Scientists have been studying why seismic activity has spiked in Oklahoma, and one theory is it could be related to wastewater from oil and gas drilling often that is discarded by injecting it deep into underground wells. But industry leaders deny injection wells are to blame for the increase.

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