A series of earthquakes near Edmond and Arcadia, Oklahoma, occurring late Friday night and continuing into early Saturday morning, have captured significant attention. According to various sources, these quakes included two significant tremors, each seismic event measuring 4.4 in magnitude.
The sequence of seismic events began on Friday night at around 9:37 p.m. with a 3.2 magnitude quake near Arcadia. This was closely followed by a stronger quake, measuring 4.4 magnitude, with its epicenter located approximately four miles west of Arcadia. This pattern of activity persisted with two smaller earthquakes of magnitudes 2.7 and 2.5 occurring later on Friday night. The seismic activity continued into Saturday morning, with a 2.6 magnitude quake near Arcadia around 4:45 a.m., and an hour later, another 4.4 magnitude quake was recorded near Edmond, followed by a smaller earthquake measuring 2.7 magnitude around 6:55 a.m. These events were reported to have caused strong shaking in the immediate areas and across Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) confirmed these details in a statement, noting a 4.3 magnitude event at 9:46 PM local time, followed by a 4.1 magnitude quake at about 5:36 AM on January 13, 2024. Additionally, the OGS mentioned that there had been activity along this fault since December 29, with several smaller events recorded between December 29 and January 6. The seismic hazard in the area remains high, with reports of strong shaking but no public reports of damage as of now.
In response to the earthquakes, the City of Edmond reportedly inspected facilities and infrastructure to assess impacts and confirmed that new water and wastewater infrastructure in place, including water towers, are built to withstand seismic activity. The city is also in contact with state officials investigating the occurrences and the Corps of Engineers for inspections of the dam at Arcadia Lake.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), which in the past has requested oil and gas operators to curtail or reduce some of their injections of wastewater due to suspicions of causing earthquakes, is likely to investigate these recent events. However, Matt Skinner, an OCC spokesman, noted that the recent Edmond earthquakes do not appear to be connected to current drilling or disposal activities. He mentioned that there hasn’t been deep-water disposal in the area for years, and there is no ongoing hydraulic fracturing there.
Historically, Oklahoma has seen disputes between homeowners and insurance companies over earthquake-related claims. Notably, in 2021, Farmers Insurance agreed to a $25 million settlement with the state of Oklahoma over allegations of improperly denying more than 1,000 claims related to earthquake damage. These allegations had led to several private lawsuits, and the then-Attorney General Mike Hunter had intervened in the proceedings, threatening potential criminal proceedings if Farmers Insurance did not comply with requests for documents and testimony related to the claims.
The series of earthquakes near Edmond and Arcadia raises concerns about potential impacts on residents and infrastructure. While the Oklahoma Geological Survey and the City of Edmond are actively monitoring and responding to the situation, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission continues to investigate the earthquakes’ connection to oil and gas operations. The historical context of legal challenges related to earthquake damages in Oklahoma underscores the significance of these events and the need for diligent investigation and response from both state officials and insurance companies.