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Energy and Environment

Despite Oklahoma Earthquakes, Kansas Seeing Quieter Tremors

Marcin Wichary, flickr Creative Commons

Despite recent earthquakes in Oklahoma, which shook Wichita and even Kansas City, tremors originating in Kansas have been quieter in recent months.

Oklahoma has recorded two 4.7 magnitude earthquakes in the last two weeks. Here in Kansas, the state’s geological survey hasn’t recorded one greater than 4.0 since June.

Geologists in both states have linked an increase in recorded earthquakes to wastewater injection, which occurs after shale oil and natural gas exploration.

Kansas puts limits on wastewater injection in Harper and Sumner counties earlier this year, but Rex Buchanan of the Kansas Geological Survey says it was only for a short amount of time and isn’t necessarily the reason for fewer earthquakes in the state.

“I do think it’s appropriate to treat this as a long term issue and not a short-term issue," Buchanan says. "And I think even with the decrease we’ve seen, I certainly wouldn’t sit here and say this problem is going away. Obviously, the folks in Oklahoma are still dealing with it.”

Credit Kansas Geological Survey

Buchanan says research into wastewater injection and its effect on Kansas earthquakes is still fairly new, but that it’s becoming easier to study the relationship. The state has installed temporary earthquake monitors in south-central Kansas, and a more permanent network of monitors is expected to replace them.