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Quake risk high in parts of central United States.

Northern Oklahoma is just as susceptible to a damaging earthquake this year as the most quake-prone areas of California. That's because quakes are no longer just a natural hazard, the U.S. Geological Survey says. In its quake hazards forecast released March 28, the agency for the first time included the effects of artificially triggered seismicity. The map above shows which areas are most prone to quake damage of any severity (the far left portion of the map shows just the risks from natural earthquakes).

An increased risk in the central United States largely stems from sites where fluids, such as fracking wastewater, are injected underground (SN: 8/9/14, p. 13). Rising fluid pressure can unclamp faults and unleash quakes (SN: 7/11/15, p. 10). From 1973 to 2008, an average of 24 potentially damaging quakes rattled the central United States annually. From 2009 to 2015, an uptick in fracking helped that number skyrocket to 318 annual quakes on average, with 1,010 temblors in 2015 alone.

Induced quakes haven't been as powerful as their natural counterparts, but the potential for more powerful shakes exists, scientists warn.

Caption: 2016 U.S. earthquake risk

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Author:Sumner, Thomas
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 30, 2016
Words:206
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