Colorado Ranks High In USGS Forecast Of Damaging Quakes

Colorado faces the fourth-highest danger of man-made earthquakes in the country this year, according to a new map from the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS says uptick is a byproduct of drilling for oil and gas. The federal agency says earthquakes near Greeley and Trinidad have been linked to oil and gas activity, caused by injecting wastewater deep underground.

USGS scientists identified 21 areas with increased rates of induced seismicity, or man-made earthquakes across the country in 2016. Five are in Colorado. Only the Trinidad area has higher than a 1 percent chance of damage with a risk of up to 5 percent. 

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission requires earthquake monitors at commercial wells and any newly permitted wells planning to inject 10,000 barrels a day. 

Oklahoma now has a one in eight chance of damaging quakes this year, surpassing California as the state with the highest probability.

USGS seismologists said 7 million people live in areas where the risk has dramatically jumped for earthquakes caused by disposal of wastewater, a byproduct of drilling for oil and gas. That is mostly concentrated in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado and Arkansas.

Natural earthquake risk also increased around the New Madrid fault in Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas and Illinois.