Nineteen earthquakes have shaken parts of the metro area over the last seven days, causing little damage but fraying more than a few nerves.
Road crews were dispatched to inspect Oklahoma County highways, roads and bridges but no damage was found, transportation officials said Friday.
The largest of these quakes had a magnitude of 3.8, not likely to cause serious damage but strong enough to do minor damage or knock unsecured items off shelves, said Rob Williams, a U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist in Golden, Colo.
Six of the 19 recent earthquakes have had a magnitude greater than 3.
Warren Vieth lives in the Apple Valley neighborhood in far northeast Oklahoma City, near where many of the recent earthquakes have occurred.
He said the 3.8 quake on Monday night was intense.
“Holy Moly. That was one, big, kick-ass quake,”he said. “Felt like a bulldozer hitting the side of the house. I was standing in the kitchen and watched the cabinet doors rattle open and shut.”
Williams said these quakes are likely connected to a central Oklahoma swarm of earthquakes that have been occurring since 2009. The swarm's cause remains under study.
Crews from Oklahoma County, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation have examined bridges, roads and highways.
Some of the earthquakes have been centered on or near the Kilpatrick Turnpike, but no damage has been found.
An earthquake with a magnitude of 2.5 to 3 is the smallest generally felt by people. A magnitude 4 can cause moderate damage, a magnitude 5 considerable and a magnitude 6, severe damage. A magnitude 7 earthquake is capable of widespread and heavy damage.
Williams said the central Oklahoma earthquakes have occurred at relatively shallow depths and could have the potential for causing more damage than quakes that begin at greater depths.
“You can have damage from something smaller than a magnitude 4, especially if an earthquake is shallow and closer to homes, so the energy doesn't get absorbed by the earth and dampened,” he said.
On Nov. 5, 2011, a 5.6-magnitude quake struck northwest of Prague, damaging more than a dozen homes and buildings and injuring at least two people. This earthquake broke the state's previous record for strongest recorded earthquake, a 5.5-magnitude quake in 1952 in El Reno.
Could more quakes of this size or bigger occur?
“I can't rule it out,” Williams said. “Oklahomans should continue to stay prepared for earthquakes, just like they prepare for tornadoes.”