Study: More earthquakes, more anxiety in Oklahoma

This article discusses how the increased number of earthquakes is having a detrimental impact on the mental health of people living in Oklahoma. Oklahomans’ Google searches for anxiety increase following earthquakes, according to a new study.Oklahoma isn’t an earthquake-prone area, naturally. However, over the past decade, there’s been a sharp increase in wastewater injection wells, which store wastewater produced from oil and gas drilling. More than 4,900 wells were approved in Oklahoma between Jan. 9, 2008 and April 13, 2018, with sharp increase in 2011 and 2012, according to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The state now has more than 10,000 wastewater injection wells.

The fluid pumped underground can change alter pressure in faults, spurring quakes.

Oklahoma had some seismic activity prior to 2008, with one or two earthquakes (magnitude 3 or higher) a year. But that jumped in 2009, going from two in 2008 to 20 in 2009. In 2015, Oklahoma experienced 887 magnitude 3 or higher earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Between June 2008 and July 2017, Oklahoma saw more than 2,600 magnitude 3 or higher earthquakes. The USGS now says that Oklahoma has more earthquakes on a regular basis than California. And Casey, a postdoctoral researcher at University of California Berkeley, found that more earthquakes means more Google searches for anxiety, according to a recently published study in the journal of Environmental Epidemiology.

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