Ex-seismologist felt pressured in survey
TULSA (AP) Oklahoma's former lead seismologist says he felt pressured by a University of Oklahoma official to not link the state's surge in earthquakes to oil and gas production.
Austin Holland's sworn testimony came last month as part of a lawsuit filed in 2015 by Prague resident Jennifer Cooper against two oil companies for damages sustained during an earthquake in 2011, the Tulsa World reported The 5.7 magnitude quake that hit the Prague area, about 50 miles east of Oklahoma City, was the largest in state history.
University President David Boren disputed Holland was ever pressured by the school.
Researchers have linked the spike in the number of earthquakes in parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and other states to the underground disposal of wastewater from oil and gas production. Holland said he was reprimanded for helping publish a peer-reviewed journal article on how to cope with such earthquakes.
When asked by the plaintiff's attorney who pressured him to avoid linking the 2011 quake with wastewater injection wells, Holland said Larry Grillot, the former dean of the university's Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, and a former director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey influenced or altered wording in his research or presentations.
Grillot denied the accusation, telling the newspaper: "If Dr. Holland is asserting that he received pressure from me to alter his research or conclusions, that's not true. ... That did not happen." Multiple attempts by the newspaper to reach the former Oklahoma Geological Survey official were unsuccessful. The survey is a state agency administered by the university.