Why is the risk for earthquakes just as high in parts of the Midwest as it is in California?

During the tail end of my junior year of high school, my family and I temporarily relocated to Southwest Missouri.

We were fleeing the cratering of the entire construction industry in Southern California, hoping to catch the extraordinary boom in construction taking place surrounding Branson. Although the school year only had a few weeks left, I transferred to the local high school in an attempt at full immersion.

I kid you not, at least once a day while living and attending school in Missouri, someone would ask me about all the earthquakes in California. Students and teachers alike were astounded that people (in their minds) put their lives on the line daily, not knowing when the next rumbling of the earth would occur spelling certain destruction.

I on the other hand was shocked at how easily the locals could accept the likelihood of tornados, and listened in amazement to stories people told of their near misses and lost property caused by weather.

Which is why the latest report from the US Geological Survey is so mind-blowing. The LA Times has more:

The earthquake risk for Oklahoma and southern Kansas is expected to remain significant in 2017, threatening 3 million people with seismic events that can produce damaging shaking, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey forecast released Wednesday.

The seismic risk is forecast to be so high that the chance of damage in Oklahoma and southern Kansas is expected to be similar to that of natural earthquakes in California, USGS scientists writing in the journal Seismological Research Letters said Wednesday.

The cause for the dramatic uptick in seismic activity in the Midwest?

The earthquakes are thought to be the result of disposal of wastewater deep underground following fracking, a method to extract petroleum. Injecting wastewater deep underground is not thought to trigger earthquakes everywhere — in North Dakota, for example — but is widely believed by scientists to be a problem in Oklahoma.

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