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Scientists: Oil & Gas Disposal Wells Triggering Kansas Quakes

oil_well.jpg
Tim Evanson, flickr Creative Commons
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The Kansas Geological Survey has determined there is a connection between oil and gas production and earthquakes.

Oil and gas wells produce massive amounts of salty water, which is then pumped back down into the ground, under high pressure, in disposal wells. And that process, according to Survey Director Rex Buchanan, is triggering seismic activity.

"You produce a lot more saltwater than you do oil from most of the oil wells in the state," Buchanan says. "That water is injected into the deep sub-surface, and the pressure from the mass of that saltwater has probably allowed faults to move, in effect, reactivating faults in the subsurface and causing earthquakes."

Earlier this year, regulators ordered the industry to reduce the amount of waste water being pumped into individual disposal wells in the parts of south-central Kansas where earthquakes have been most active.

J. Schafer is the News Director of Kansas Public Radio at the Univeristy of Kansas. He’s also the Managing Editor of the Kansas Public Radio Network, which provides news and information to other public radio stations in Kansas and Missouri. Before joining KPR in 1995, Schafer spent 10 years as a commercial radio and TV newsman. During his career, he's filed stories for nearly every major radio news network in the nation including ABC, NBC, CBS, AP, UPI, the Mutual Broadcasting System, NPR and the BBC. This seems to impress no one. At KPR, he produces feature stories, interviews and newscast items and edits the work of others. In the fall of 2000, he performed contract work for the U.S. State Department, traveling to central Asia to teach broadcast journalism at newly independent radio stations in the former Soviet Union. One of his passions is Kansas; learning about and promoting the state’s rich heritage, people and accomplishments. Schafer gives presentations about Kansas to various organizations around the state to remind residents about our awesome history and incredible people. A native of Great Bend, he studied journalism and mass communications at Barton County Community College and at the University of Kansas. He was also an exchange student to Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany. The “J.” in J. Schafer stands for Jeremy, but he doesn’t really care for that name. He also enjoys the pretentiousness of using just a single initial for a first name!