Oklahoma’s Earthquakes


Photo: Jamie Weston

Ada High School

An earthquake is the sudden shifting of the earth’s plates that can cause serious damage. It  generally occurs along the coast but is not uncommon in the central part of the country.

Earthquakes are measured in range by a seismograph and are recorded in range. They range anywhere from 2.5 to 8.0.

Oklahoma is not on the coast, but that doesn’t mean that earthquakes won’t happen there. Although this time of year tornadoes are a pending danger, the increase in Oklahoma’s earthquake occurrence indicated a need to prepare for that natural disaster as well.

Stop, drop and hang on is the most common technique used in the instance of an earthquake. Basically, you would stop, drop to the ground and hang on too something sturdy, like the leg of a table.

Richter Scale Magnitude Chart

In Ada, there is a very low risk of an earthquake with an estimated 40 in the last 80 years.  Most of them have been low in magnitude, so no major damage occurred, but they were still large enough to record.

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Fault Lines causing earthquakes
Yellow Lines are less likely. Orange lines are a more likely. Red lines are most likely.

The picture above is a geological map of Oklahoma showing the fault lines where most earthquakes occur.

Jamie Weston, an English/Journalism teacher at Ada High, lives 3o miles Southwest of Ada and has experienced a damaging Oklahoma earthquake.

“A year or so ago, a strong earthquake woke me in the middle of the night. It shook pictures off the walls and caused cracks in the walls and ceilings,” said Weston.

April 9, 1952, an earthquake centered in El Reno,, Okla. It affected most of Oklahoma and parts of Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas. This earthquake caused parts of chimneys to fall  in El Reno and Ponca City. It caused bricks to loosen and fall out of buildings in and near Oklahoma City.

On Feb. 16, 1956, Edmond was the victim of a high magnitude earthquake that shattered windows and cracked plaster in buildings. This earthquake was not only felt in Edmond, it was also felt in Guthrie, Oklahoma City and Pawnee.

Damage From Earthquake In Edmond Okla.
Damage From Earthquake In Edmond Ok.

Fracking is said to be a major cause of earthquakes, in Oklahoma.

Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

According to the Corporation Commission website, “The Oklahoma Geological Survey has determined that the majority of recent earthquakes in central and north-central Oklahoma are very likely triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells.”

According to Ada High Principal, Jeff Maloy, AHS currently has no procedures set in the event of an earthquake during school hours.

“We’d probably have students get under their desks,” said Maloy.

Until there are earthquakes in the Ada area that are strong enough to cause major structural damage or bodily injury, tornado dangers will continue to be the main weather related worry of AHS administrators.