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USGS ShakeMap for the 2011 Oklahoma earthquake.

Largest Oklahoma Earthquake Triggered by Humans

A magnitude-5.7 earthquake in 2011—the most powerful quake ever recorded in Oklahoma—may have been triggered by humans. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey are suggesting that the tremors were caused by wastewater injection, a process in which fluid is pumped into wells below ground for disposal. According to the team, which published its observations online in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth this month, the process has been tied to decreased fault strength and earthquakes and may have led to a magnitude-5.0 foreshock that triggered the larger quake and thousands of aftershocks.

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