Induced seismicity, quotidian disruption, and challenges to extractivist ecocultural identity

Authored by: Dakota K. T. Raynes , Tamara L. Mix

Routledge Handbook of Ecocultural Identity

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  May  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138478411
eBook ISBN: 9781351068840
Adobe ISBN:


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In 2015, the United States media sources declared Oklahoma ‘the earthquake capital of the world,’ due to an exponential rise in seismic activity attributed to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and use of fracking wastewater disposal wells. In Chapter 18 of the Routledge Handbook of Ecocultural Identity, Raynes and Mix engage an ecocultural lens to examine the social construction of the technological risks associated with extraction-induced seismicity. The authors consider how induced seismicity, a form of quotidian disruption, literally shook residents otherwise unwilling to speak/act against the powerful oil and gas industry into grassroots activism. The authors ask: How have historical ecocultural conditions impacted contemporary constructions, understandings, and experiences of induced seismicity? How have sensorial experiences of induced seismicity influenced the development of counter-narratives, mobilization of collective action, and new forms of ecocultural identity? Findings indicate that efforts to understand and respond to the emergent socio-environmental problem of induced seismicity occurred through highly contentious public discourse. Earthquakes disrupted Oklahomans’ daily lives, senses of normalcy, and expectations of safety and security. Realization that the quakes were human induced – and perceptions of the industry, regulatory agencies, and state officials as doing little to protect residents’ land, lives, and livelihoods – resulted in a dramatic transformation of ecocultural identity for some Oklahomans.

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