The Edmond Sun

Local News

February 17, 2014

USGS: Guthrie area earthquakes continue

Seismologist explains cause of reported explosions

EDMOND — Seismic instruments recorded a flurry of earthquakes in the 2.9-3.8 magnitude range Monday morning near Guthrie, the USGS reports.

The 3.8 magnitude quake occurred about 6 miles south-southwest of Guthrie, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was followed by quakes with a magnitude of 2.9 about 5.5 miles south of Guthrie, 2.7 magnitude about 7.4 miles north-northwest of Edmond, 3.4 magnitude about 7.4 miles south of Guthrie and 3.0 magnitude about 5.5 miles southwest of Guthrie.

Monday morning, residents in Edmond, Arcadia, Guthrie, Spencer, Oklahoma City, Shawnee and Newalla reported feeling a magnitude 3.4 quake on a USGS “Did You Feel It?” page.

Additional earthquakes occurred in the Edmond and Guthrie area since early Friday morning. At about 11 p.m. Sunday, a 4.2 quake rattled residents in the area, according to the USGS. It was felt in Edmond.

Logan County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Richard Stephens said on Friday the agency received dozens of calls about loud noises like explosions and reports of homes damaged in south central Logan County. On the agency’s Facebook page, a resident reported seeing USGS seismic trucks in the county.

Last weekend, a 4.1 magnitude earthquake caused damage to the Logan County jail.

Oklahoma Geological Survey Chief Geophysicist James Lawson explains earthquakes produce two types of seismic waves through the earth. One type moves mainly up and down; the other side to side. The type that moves mainly up and down reaches the surface first.

As they arrive at a citizen’s location, they cause the ground surface around you and your floor to vibrate up and down, just like a loudspeaker cone. The movement is too tiny to be seen, but large enough to cause a low frequency sound. These sounds are often described as a boom or a rumble.

Depending on the seismic wave activity, citizens may hear sound only, vibration only, sound and vibration, sound followed by vibration, vibration followed by sound or sound and vibration followed by vibration. Other combinations are also possible.

 In November, seismologists investigated an earthquake swarm in the southern Arcadia Lake area. Seismologists have said those quakes could be an extension of the Jones earthquake swarm. The largest quake recorded in November near the lake was a 4.0.

It is well accepted that ultimately, earthquake swarms are due to the natural accumulation of stress on pressure faults, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey. Sometimes, external factors such as human activities or hydrologic loads can slightly alter pressures or stresses deep within the earth and trigger earthquakes.

Quakes can be caused by high lake levels or rapidly changing lake levels, and there often are time delays between these surface observations and quakes occurring at depth, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

Seismologists continued to study the correlation between the water levels at Arcadia Lake and the earthquake swarm there.

The American Red Cross offers an Earthquake App for use with iPhone and Android platforms. Features include “Shock Zone Impact Maps,” offering personalized local impact information to help citizens make crucial decisions, and maps showing location, magnitude and intensity of quakes.

Seismologists have said a California-strong earthquake is not expected here anytime soon. In November 2011, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake in the Shawnee-Sparks area, the strongest in state history since records have been kept, was felt in Edmond.

Numerous seismic instruments set up in the region record earthquake data. | 341-2121, ext. 108

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