Experts warn only a matter of time before Oklahoma rocked by 'big earthquake'
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma is no longer known as the state where the wind comes sweeping down the plains. Now, the Sooner State also leads the world in seismic activity. This year, more than 5, 000 earthquakes have been recorded and studied in our state. Residents have become accustomed to the little shaking, rattling and rolling. However, experts say earthquakes in Oklahoma will likely increase in magnitude over time. Now, research said it’s only a matter of time before we get a big one that will change life for those of us living here. Over the years, damage has been caught on camera. “Well, Oklahoma State pulled out a squeaker there,” the Cowboys fan said on video in 2011 when the room began to quake. “We’re having an earthquake. Do you hear that?” In 2011, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake shook the state, becoming the largest quake in recent Oklahoma history.
Now, research shows a bigger, stronger one could hit soon. “Isn’t this lovely?” Jackie Dill, a Coyle resident says shaking a column on her front porch. For 10 years, Dill has called this 1930’s Coyle house her home. “Up here on the roof, I want you to see, this really worries me,” Dill says pointing out a spot on her roof. “Hit so hard we can see the rafters creaking right? We walked out and do you see the bump in the roof where the rafter is peaking up?” Now, her house buckles each time the seismometers catch any ground quaking action. “When I moved in 2005, none of this was here. None of these cracks, not one,” Dill said. Fast forward 10 years later, you wonder how it’s still standing.
“I now invest on lots of mortar for the rocks, I buy it by the bagfuls,” Dill says. But a little mortar to help the visible cracks won’t help the underlying problems. “We really just planned to live out the rest of our life here and be comfortable, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, we thought we had it all, we really did,” Dill said. Now Jackie, like many Oklahomans, is waiting for the one that’s sure to crumble her home. “There’s a lot of us out here, what are we going to have to do to get their attention?” Dill says. “It’s unclear exactly how high we might go, and the predictions are upper 5-6 range for most things that I’ve seen,” Todd Halihan, a researcher from OSU, says. Halihan studies these quakes; his expertise is hydro-geophysics.
“Underneath any of these urban areas, whether it’s Stillwater, Cushing, Oklahoma City, Guthrie, these cities are not built to seismic standards. They’re not in L.A.,” Halihan said. What would happen to the Devon tower, Chesapeake Arena, our bridges and our roads if a big one hit in the center of Oklahoma City? “We have a lot of buildings that were built with earthquakes not even on the radar screen, so we would expect probably a fair bit of damage,” Halihan said. “There’s just so much. It’s, you know, I’ve done all my crying and now I’m just angry, I’m so angry,” Dill says. “Anything that has to do with the state we might as well forget.” EP