Environmental News

Did You Feel It? Magnitude 4.7 Earthquake Shakes Midwestern States

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake centered 9 miles southwest of Cherokee, Oklahoma sent a shockwave across several plains states early Thursday morning, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Preliminary reports have indicated no serious damage or injuries have occurred from the tremor, which The Christian Science Monitor said was felt as far away as 1,200 miles from the epicenter at 1:42 a.m.

The area is not prone to large earthquakes, but residents have experienced several quakes of similar strength in 2015, according to Randy Baldwin from the National Earthquake Information Center. The region, in fact, has experienced in excess of twenty magnitude 4 quakes so far this year.

That does little to comfort the millions of residents who experienced the shaking during the middle of the night. More than 80 residents near the epicenter of the quake called 911 to report the incident, while some others took to social media. One of the Tweeters, Eric Espinosa, said his home shook for 10 to 15 seconds in North Wichita, Kansas, which is about 100 miles away from the epicenter of the quake.

The National Weather Service from Dodge City, Kansas, shared an interesting fact about the quake on Twitter, with radar imagery that appears to show a massive amount of startled birds taking to the air after the quake hit.

While the region has experienced several magnitude 4 quakes over the past year, the 4.7 magnitude of this event represents the strongest to hit the region since in four years. On November 11, 2011, the USGS reported a 4.8 tremor impacted the region.

The USGS has not reported any significant aftershocks since the quake hit.

In all, people from nine states — some from as far away as Tucson, Arizona — reported feeling some effect from the quake.

According to the USGS, the increase of earthquakes in the area is most likely a result of fracking — a manmade process of drilling into the earth to harvest underground gas that triggers “induced seismicity”. They said that across most of the central and eastern United States, “the number of earthquakes suspected of having been induced is much smaller than the number of natural earthquakes”, but in the south-central plains, “a significant majority of recent earthquakes are thought by many seismologists to have been human-induced.”

Did you feel the quake?

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