Aliens, apocalypse, lightning? … No, just a meteor rocking Michigan

A meteor is caught on security camera footage in a residential area in Newport, Michigan, U.S., January 16, 2018 in this still image from video

(Reuters) – A bright meteor briefly swept across the sky over parts of the U.S. Midwest and Canada on Tuesday, weather and geology agencies said, and then caused a powerful explosion that rattled homes and onlookers.

The meteor was seen across the region in places such as Ohio, Michigan and Ontario at about 8 p.m. local time and registered a 2.0 magnitude tremor about 4 miles (7 km) east of Saint Clair Shores in Eastern Michigan, the United States Geological Survey said on its website.

A car dash cam captures a view of a meteor near Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, U.S., January 16, 2018 in this still image from video obtained from social media.

A car dash cam captures a view of a meteor near Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, U.S., January 16, 2018 in this still image from video obtained from social media. Youtube Mike Austin/via REUTERS

The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed it was not a meteorological event but more likely a meteor.

“The NWS can confirm the flash and boom was NOT thunder or lightning, but instead a likely meteor,” the NWS in Detroit said on Twitter.

The meteor sighting lit up social media with people posting videos and reaction.

“I can’t believe there was a Meteor! It shook our house and made a large bang! We thought someone hit our house,” Twitter user Jennifer Wilson said in a post.


Others had more ominous thoughts.

“I thought for sure I was either seeing the alien invasion or the apocalypse. It’s awesome in retrospect, freaky … in real time,” said a Twitter user who goes by the name Crash.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Paul Tait)

Tremors in U.S. Northeast caused by sonic boom, not quake: USGS

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Residents from New Jersey to Connecticut reported feeling earthquake-like shaking on Thursday afternoon, but U.S. seismologists said the vibrations were likely the result of a series of sonic booms.

The U.S. Geological Survey, which monitors earthquake activity, said no quake had struck. The agency reported at least nine sonic booms had been recorded over 90 minutes starting at 1:24 p.m. near Hammonton, New Jersey, about 35 miles southeast of Philadelphia.

On Twitter, users said they felt several tremors, particularly in southern New Jersey.

It was not immediately clear what had caused the sonic booms, which are generated by airplanes traveling in the air faster than the speed of sound.

Some news reports suggested that military aircraft from McGuire Air Force Base, approximately 35 miles north of Hammonton, were the likely source.

But the McGuire base said on Twitter that its training ranges were clear on Thursday and that none of its aircraft are capable of creating sonic booms. In a subsequent post, the base said it was working with local authorities to determine a cause.

Seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York also confirmed that no earthquake had occurred in the region and that they had measured vibrations and low-frequency sound waves consistent with about eight sonic booms from approximately 1:20 p.m. to 2:40 p.m.

Won-Young Kim, a research professor at the observatory, said residents on the ground likely would not have heard the booms but would have experienced 15 to 20 seconds of shaking during each one.

The tremors produced numerous emergency calls to local police departments, some of which took to Twitter to ask residents not to flood their emergency lines with any more reports.

No damage was immediately reported.

Some Twitter users offered a lighthearted response. One person using the handle @VixenRogue quipped: “Aliens are invading New Jersey. What’s the best way to let them know the other 49 states are just fine with this?”

The reports came two days after residents in Charleston, South Carolina, said they felt tremors. The shaking was likely caused by sonic booms from F-18 fighter jets on a training run from a nearby military base, according to media reports.

Sonic booms are often mistaken for seismic activity, according to the USGS website.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Additional reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Andrew Hay and Sandra Maler)

Oklahoma earthquakes raise calls for restrictions on energy firms

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) – Earthquakes in Oklahoma in the past week, including one of the strongest ever recorded in the state, have led to calls for the governor to make changes to oil and gas drilling regulations and reduce seismic activity scientists link to the energy industry.

Two large earthquakes were recorded in northwest Oklahoma on Wednesday, including a magnitude 4.8 quake. The quakes were part of a surge in seismic activity over the past several years.

Scientists have tied a sharp increase in the intensity and frequency of quakes in Oklahoma to the disposal of saltwater, a byproduct of oil and gas extraction, into deep wells. Oil fields have boomed in Oklahoma over the past decade thanks to advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

State Representative Richard Morrissette, a Democrat who has said the state’s Republican leaders are not doing enough to address the problem, will host a public forum at the Capitol on Friday to discuss the rash of earthquakes.

He wants the state to halt operation of injection wells at quake sites and do more to prevent them from causing quakes.

“No one in a position of authority is taking this seriously,” said Morrissette, who accused the state’s leadership of bowing to pressure from the energy industry.

Morrissette is hoping to build grassroots support to take on the oil and gas drilling industry, a powerful player for decades in the state and a major source of employment.

The industry is Oklahoma’s largest source of private capital spending and tax revenue and accounts for about 10 percent of the state’s annual economy, according to the Oklahoma State Chamber, which represents more than 1,000 Oklahoma businesses.

Although the quakes last week caused no major reported damage or injuries, they left many Oklahomans shaken. Firms providing quake insurance saw a surge in calls inquiring about coverage.

“We don’t have overall data on how much injection is going on in this area, but we attribute most of the earthquakes these days to deep injection of produced oil wastewater,” said Jerry Doak, director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

State leaders have been instituting changes, but critics said they have not gone far enough.

In response to the quakes, Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, said last week that the state has been regulating disposal wells, taking some steps to limit their injection rate and depth of their injections.

“Science is ever-evolving as to what actually causes earthquakes. We know that disposal wells can cause earthquakes, but not all earthquakes. There are fault lines that are just natural in Oklahoma,” she told The Oklahoman newspaper.

Energy companies have also been responding.

Phillips 66 has overhauled how it plans for earthquakes, a sign U.S. energy companies are starting to react to rising seismicity around the world’s largest crude storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, site of many disposal wells.

The changes include new protocols for inspecting the health of crude tanks, potentially halting operations after temblors, and monitoring quake alerts.

(Reporting by Heide Brandes; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Oklahoma city shaken by 20 earthquakes in 9 hours

A small city in Oklahoma was hit by 20 earthquakes in nine hours overnight, including a pair of particularly strong ones just 30 seconds apart, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The earthquakes occurred between 10:27 p.m. and 7:40 a.m. and were centered just northwest of Fairview, a city of about 2,600 people that sits about 100 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.

The swarm began with magnitude 4.7 and magnitude 4.8 earthquakes 30 seconds apart. The second quake was the strongest in the state since November 2011, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, and only three stronger earthquakes have occurred in Oklahoma since 1882.

The 18 quakes that followed ranged in magnitude from 2.5 to 4.0, USGS data indicates.

The strongest earthquake could be felt more than 100 miles away in other parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, according to user-submitted reports published on the USGS website. There was no indication that any of the 20 earthquakes caused any significant damage or injuries.

Last April, the Oklahoma Geological Survey issued a statement saying the state’s seismicity rate was 600 times greater than it was before 2008. Wastewater from the oil and gas companies that operate in the state has been linked to the rise, and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has taken steps to limit the amount of wastewater in an attempt to reduce the overall risk of quakes.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission on Monday announced additional steps it would take to limit such waste near Edmond, which had felt two sizeable earthquakes in recent days — a magnitude 4.3 earthquake on Dec. 29 and a magnitude 4.2 earthquake on New Year’s Day.

But USGS data indicated three smaller earthquakes occurred near Edmond between 7:20 p.m. Wednesday and 12:42 a.m. Thursday. The tremors ranged in magnitude from 2.5 to 3.2.

Edmond, one of Oklahoma’s largest cities, is located 15 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma Geological Survey and USGS have both warned the increase in large earthquakes — those greater than magnitude 3.0 — puts Oklahoma more at risk for even bigger earthquakes.

Magnitude 6.7 Earthquake Leads to Death, Destruction in India, Bangladesh

An early-morning earthquake rattled India and the neighboring countries of Bangladesh and Myanmar on Monday, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The USGS reported the magnitude 6.7 quake was first felt at 4:35 a.m. local time on Monday. It was centered about 18 miles west of Impahl, the capital of the Indian province of Manipur.

The quake caused the deaths of at least 11 people in India and Bangladesh, Reuters reported, and injured approximately 190 more. According to Reuters, the earthquake knocked down portions of buildings in Impahl, while shaking was felt in a Myanmar city about 730 miles away.

The USGS said the region is known for seismic activity, and 19 magnitude 6.0-plus earthquakes have occurred within a 150-mile radius of Monday’s ground-shaker within the past 100 years. Most of the people in the region live in buildings prone to earthquake damage, the USGS said.

Reuters reported the latest quake knocked out power and phone lines, complicating rescue efforts.

Earthquakes Rattle Southern California, British Columbia

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake during rush hour on Tuesday evening triggered multiple aftershocks in southern California, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The initial quake occurred at 5:48 p.m. local time about 2.5 miles outside of Devore, California, a small community in San Bernardino County. Three aftershocks followed within 30 minutes, the USGS reported, and a fifth earthquake occurred at 6:14 a.m. local time on Wednesday.

According to the USGS, the initial quake was widely felt throughout the greater Los Angeles area though there were no reports of significant damage. The aftershocks, ranging in magnitude from 2.7 to 3.8, were not as widely felt, though they still caused some light shaking in the Devore area.

San Bernardino is located about 12 miles southeast of Devore. San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan wrote on his Twitter page that no damage or injuries had been reported to the department, though the earthquake did set off several alarms. Police were responding to those.

Meanwhile, the USGS also indicated that a magnitude 4.8 earthquake occurred about 11 miles outside of Victoria, British Columbia, late Tuesday night. There were no significant aftershocks.

The quake, which occurred at 11:39 p.m., caused light-to-moderate shaking in parts of Canada and throughout northwest Washington, the USGS said. There were no reports of heavy damage.

Victoria is located on an island off the Canadian mainland. While the earthquake did occur in a coastal area, The National Tsunami Warning Center said there was not any threat of a tsunami.

Earthquakes Cause Minor Damage, Knock Out Power in Oklahoma

Early-morning earthquakes caused some damage in one Oklahoma community on Tuesday.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a magnitude 4.3 earthquake occurred at 5:39 a.m. local time about five miles outside of Edmond, Oklahoma, one of the state’s most populous cities. A magnitude 3.4 aftershock followed nearby exactly 10 minutes later.

Edmond is located about 15 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.

The earthquakes caused about 4,400 customers in Edmond to lose power, officials wrote on the city’s Twitter page. However, crews restored service to every customer within about 90 minutes.

One Edmond resident shared a picture on Twitter showing a broken mirror inside a bathroom, though there weren’t published reports indicating the quake caused severe damage or injuries.

Another magnitude 2.9 earthquake shook the ground 17 miles outside of Fairview, Oklahoma, at 6:48 a.m., according to the USGS. Fairview is roughly 100 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.

The three earthquakes were the latest to hit the state of Oklahoma, which has seen a dramatic rise in seismic activity since 2009, according to the USGS. Wastewater from the oil and gas companies who operate in the state have been linked to the uptick, and officials at the regulatory Oklahoma Corporation Commission have implemented steps to reduce wastewater production.

However, the earthquakes continue.

USGS data indicates Oklahoma has experienced about 123 earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater in the past 30 days. That includes dozens of quakes of at least magnitude 3.0. Before 2009, the USGS says the state traditionally only saw one to three magnitude 3.0 quakes a year.

Tuesday’s earthquakes came at a time when Oklahoma was still reeling from a powerful storm that brought ice, snow and flooding to the state, which the state Department of Health said led to at least 50 people suffering injuries. The entire state remains under a state of emergency, and the National Weather Service issued flood and flash flood warnings across eastern Oklahoma.

Close to 200,000 customers across Oklahoma lacked power on Monday afternoon, Governor Mary Fallin’s office said in a news release announcing the state of emergency. However, utility companies said their crews were busy restoring power to those who had been left in the dark.

The Public Service Company of Oklahoma reported about 17,000 customers were without power on Tuesday morning. Another utility company, OG&E, reported it had restored service to about 60,000 of its customers, though about 19,000 were experiencing outages. The Oklahoma Electric Cooperative reported approximately 54,000 people near Oklahoma City lacked power.

Scientists worry that 5.5-magnitude quake could strike Oklahoma

Four earthquakes hit Oklahoma on Monday, including one of magnitude 4.4, and geologists believe that an even bigger one could be coming.

The United States Geological Survey notes the chance for a magnitude 5.5 quake has risen significantly, given the rise in the state’s seismic activity.

KFOR notes that more than 5,000 earthquakes have been recorded in Oklahoma this year, and a May 2014 report from the USGS noted a nearly 50 percent increase in the state’s earthquakes since October 2013.

The USGS report included a statistical analysis of Oklahoma’s earthquake rates and found the increase did not appear to be a part of the typical fluctuations found in nature. The analysis found that one of the likely contributing factors to the increase in wastewater being injected into geologic formations deep underground. Such induction-induced seismicity, as the USGS refers to it, has also been documented in Arkansas, Ohio and Texas.

Oklahoma has a magnitude 5.6 earthquake on record. It occurred near Prague, which is about 70 miles east of Oklahoma City, in 2011 and damaged homes and buildings, according to media reports. The USGS report noted that before that the Prague quake, the previous highest earthquake in the state’s history was a magnitude 5.5 quake in 1952.

In August, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission implemented a plan to reduce wastewater disposal in some parts of the state where seismic activity had risen sharply in an effort to mitigate the quake impacts.

Still, there have been 153 earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater in Oklahoma in the past 30 days alone, according to the USGS. 

The magnitude 4.4 quake that hit Monday was located near Cherokee, some 140 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. NewsOK reported it was located only a few miles from a 4.7 earthquake that hit last Thursday and was the state’s highest recorded seismic activity since 2011.