Fracking Hell: Oklahoma, Earthquakes, Injection Wells, and Data Accessibility

Attempting to mash the earthquake and underground data into a cohesive user-interface has proved to be, to put it mildly, daunting.  It was much easier to find sources of earthquake data than it was to find any source of well data with any fields relevant to my needs.

The earthquake data was relative easy to come by, for example I found the following sources:

I downloaded the entire earthquake dataset from the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) beginning in 1898 through the present day and imported the data into an Apache Lucene index.  In short order I had a searchable earthquake index lacking but a few location-centric fields:

  • The country in which the earthquake occurred.
  • The state in which the earthquake occurred.
  • The county in which the earthquake occurred.

In order to associate the above needed fields with the earthquake data, I downloaded two ESRI-formatted shapefiles from the National Atlas:

And one shapefile from Mapping Hacks:

I then wrote a Java program that would read each earthquake record and link it to its associated country, state, and county available from the respective shapefile of each.  To do this I used a Java library at from

Well data was much more difficult to come by, especially with any fields relevant to my needs, for example:

  • The type of well, for example “oil”, “gas”, “inj” (for injection) was available as data, just not available as a field upon which one could query.  In other words, I could not query for just underground injection wells (“inj”).
  • The date each well became active, let alone its filing date, was not available via the web interface.
  • The location of each well, in latitude and longitude, was not available either.
  • Given the lack of the above information, I didn’t even concern myself with the lack of well depth information.

As an exercise in personal fortitude, I downloaded the wells for each county in the State of Oklahoma from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s Well Data System into one Excel spreadsheet per county.  I then wrote a Java program that read the well data within each county’s Excel spreadsheet and posted it to an Apache Lucene index.  I then zipped the Apache Lucene index and pushed it a web site so that it could be queried and viewed using Apache Solr’s VelocityResponseWriter browser interface.  The results of this effort can be viewed and queried here.

So, in concluding this post, I find the earthquake data adequate for my present needs but the well data lacking any useful date or location information to allow me to associate the earthquakes to the wells by either location or time.  As I am a persistent researcher, my next post will detail my further attempts at locating and downloading well data.


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