As most should have heard by now, Oklahoma and surrounding states were rocked (no pun intended) at 7:03 AM (CST) Saturday morning on September 3, 2016 by a powerful 5.6-magnitude (4.1-mi depth) earthquake near Pawnee in north-central Oklahoma. I live in the north Edmond area, and the quake shook my house violently for nearly thirty seconds. It was a booger. We did not sustain any serious damage, but many residential and business buildings across the state have been damaged and assessments are underway. Of course, we’re all on alert for more quake events.
Although we did not feel any foreshocks overnight to warn of a coming bigger event, for several weeks we have experienced intermittent ground noises (booms and grumbles and bangs), odd tremblings and ground movement (usually in the form of sudden dips and rises), and earthquake lights (piezoelectric light flash effects). All of those signs abated about a week ago and the ground fell silent. Then at 7:03 AM this morning, wham!
For that last few months the quake events in central Oklahoma have lessened. The primary reason for that is the sun moved into solar minimum in about May 2016. When sunspots and coronal mass ejection (CME) events abated, so did the earthquakes in the Oklahoma area. A few minor quakes did occur later in the summer when new solar activity was recorded, but nothing too large.
Despite the sun officially being in its solar minimum cycle, solar activity just ratcheted back up with new sunspots and magnetic anomalies. As reported on Spaceweather.com for September 3, 2016: “A stream of very fast moving solar wind is buffeting Earth’s magnetic field this weekend, and this is causing geomagnetic storms around the poles. Big sunspot AR2585 is developed an unstable ‘beta-gamma’ magnetic field that harbors energy for moderately strong solar flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 20% chance of M-flares on Sept. 3rd. The solar wind is flowing from an unusually large coronal hole on the sun. Coronal holes are regions in the sun’s atmosphere where the magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. This hole is spewing a stream of solar wind so broad, it could influence Earth’s space environment for days to come. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras throughout the weekend.” [Image above from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory]
All recent major earthquakes in Oklahoma, beginning with and since the November 5th of 2011 5.6-magnitude (shallow depth) event near Prague, coincided with some recorded solar event.
It is not clear exactly how solar events trigger tectonic activity in this region. The best theory is that stress accumulated on fracture lines radiating out from the Meers Fault in southwest Oklahoma are somehow agitated by the influx of electromagnetic energies that pulse through the Earth from solar winds captured in the Earth’s magnetic field. The most visible signs of these incoming energies are the vivid aurora displays, also known as the northern and the southern lights. One clue may lie in how quartz-bearing rock reacts to strong pulses of energy, especially if those formations are already under great pressure. Quartz is a strong energy transducer, meaning it takes in energy in one form and spits it out in another. There is a lot of quartz bearing rock at the surface in southwestern and in southeastern Oklahoma, but not on the surface in central Oklahoma. However, deep underground in that 3-6 mile zone where most earthquakes occur in this region, there may indeed be large formations of quartz. That is likely the case, because quartz is abundant just to the east all along the western Arkansas border.
Pressure has been steadily building on the fractures (i.e. faults) northeast of the Meers since its last eruption about 1,300 years ago. Scientists at this time do not know the periodicity of the Meers, as in how often it slips. The Oklahoma area remained Indian Territory until 1907, with settlers only officially entering the region in the late 1880s. That means record-keeping for things like earthquakes really only go back to the early twentieth century. Geologists now know that large earthquakes have occurred across Oklahoma in recent history, but without eyewitness reports and scientific data they cannot determine the exact time, place, or magnitude of those events. There was a 5.5-magnitude (or larger) quake on April 9th of 1952 near El Reno (just west of Oklahoma City). Then fast forward 59 years to 2011 for a 5.6-magnitude quake near Prague. Now a 5.6-magnitude quake in 2016 near Pawnee. All of these points radiate northeast out from the Meers, with the El Reno quake being the closest and the Pawnee quake the farthest.
There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the earthquakes in Oklahoma are natural events and not man-made. One can only speculate as to why the powers that be are trying to blame the oil and gas industry for these events. Every time I see a local newscaster read some canned report issued by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), I growl and change the channel. I simply will not listen to nonsense. The longstanding and once respected Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) has now been dismantled, reduced to a closet somewhere on the OU campus. All earthquake research and media publicity is now under the peculiar thumb of the OCC. Yes, you read that right. Corporate lawyers are now in charge of science and geology in Oklahoma. Well, isn’t that just peachy? Maybe they can figure out what kind of cheese the moon is made of and how to mine it — without causing Moonquakes, of course.