5.8 Magnitude Earthquake Rattles Oklahoma

The earthquake ties the strongest in the state's history.

03/09/2016 7:38 PM IST | Updated 13/10/2016 12:26 AM IST

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit Oklahoma early Saturday, causing damage and tremors that were felt from Kansas to Texas.

The United States Geological Survey reports that the quake hit just after 7 a.m. in the north-central region around Pawnee, 74 miles from Oklahoma City. The earthquake ties the strongest in Oklahoma’s history. The previous record was set on Nov. 5, 2011, according to the USGS.

Early reports show some damage to buildings, but there were no initial reports of any injuries. 

Pawnee Mayor Brad Sewell said that the quake lasted nearly a minute, far longer than previous tremors that have lasted only a second or two.

Part of the façade of an early 20th-century bank building had fallen into the street downtown, but that was the only damage he knew of.

“We have had a spate of quakes over the last several years, but nothing like this,” he said. “It was a long, sustained quake. ... Clearly it was felt far and wide.”

READ MORE: The Arrival of Man-Made Earthquakes

The Associated Press attributes a recent increase in Oklahoma quake magnitudes to underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production. Environmentalists have long been concerned about the side effects of fracking in the area, which has already been blamed for tremors in the region.

Seismic activity is getting worse in Oklahoma. The state is recording an average of two and a half earthquakes daily of a magnitude 3 or higher, a seismicity rate 600 times greater than before 2008. The state is now also the epicenter of a debate over whether wastewater disposal from fracking triggers earthquakes.

Zachary Reeves, a seismologist with the USGS National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado, said that the agency had received reports of the Oklahoma quake from South Dakota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas.

“It’s a relatively large quake for the area. The central U.S. doesn’t tend to get a lot of 5-plus earthquakes,” he said.

This article has been updated to reflect that the USGS revised its calculation of the temblor’s magnitude after publication. It previously calculated its magnitude as 5.6.

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