Date of Graduation

Spring 2018

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Major

Political Science

Research Sponsor

Dr. Terry O'Sullivan

First Reader

Dr. David Cohen

Second Reader

Dr. Ron Gelleny

Abstract

Since 2009 the state of Oklahoma has experienced seismicity spikes pushing yearly totals of significant earthquakes from around 2 per year (in years prior) into the hundreds. The purpose of this paper is to present the history of Oklahoma’s problem with seismicity spikes, the science around the issue, and the governmental approaches to solving the problem. Experts in the field of seismology and geophysics have arrived at a consensus regarding induced seismicity in Oklahoma, but regulating associated industrial activity is an on-going political hot topic on which representatives and the public are divided. This project examines the regulatory approach of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in managing the state’s seismicity spikes and mitigating Oklahoma’s earthquake hazards going forward. As well, the project presents scholarship related to induced seismicity, policy options available to regulatory bodies, and the complicated relationships between different industrial activities and varying levels of seismic activity. Generally, the most hazardous induced seismicity in Oklahoma has been strongly connected to wastewater injection, which has been the primary focus of regulation by the OCC in recent years. However, the commission’s seismicity response has been gradual, and may be troubled.

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