Kansas Geological Survey: Recent earthquakes may not be from natural causes

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – You’ve likely felt one of the recent quakes in Wichita this month. There have been more than 10.

The Kansas Geological Survey says evidence shows they may be man-made.

“If it is induced, what’s causing it?” said Rick Miller with Kansas Geological Survey. “But from a seismic perspective, it did not have the characteristics of a natural one.”

Miller says small quakes have been happening in Wichita since the early 1900s. Most are just too small to be felt. He added that the recent swarm of quakes could come from water injection wells within a 15-mile radius of the recent quakes’ epicenters.

Kansas Independent Oil and Gas (KIOGA) operators chimed in on the matter.

“Certainly. this is one scientist and his perspective right now, we need to learn more,” said Ken White with White Exploration.

White also sits as a KIOGA representative with the Kansas Corporation Commission.

The Kansas Corporation Commission has throttled some wastewater injections along the Kansas/Oklahoma state line in recent years after some larger earthquakes that occurred in Sumner and Harper counties.

“Too quick to make any hard and fast conclusions on what’s happened here in Wichita,” said White.

White says there is not a large amount of wastewater injection in the area where recent quakes originated.

Miller says they are studying and gathering data.

“And then when the events happened (Wichita quakes) in March, that kind of kicked it up because now you can look at it in terms of the probabilities,” he said. “The probability of having this many, 17 felt events in this period of time compared to the three prior, was just significantly outside of our recursion relationship on seismicity as it is currently studied,” Miller added.

Purely from a statistical study of earthquakes in northeast Wichita, Miller says natural causes are likely not a cause.

“If you look at it purely from statistics the odds of it being a natural sequence is extremely low,” said Miller. “It does not playback into historical data.”

KIOGA representatives say they believe more study is not only warranted, it is welcomed.

White says there are Type Two wells used by oil and gas and other industry in the Wichita area. “But they’re just not a lot of those active in the (quake) area,” he said.

White added there are Type One wells from manufacturing and other industry that do wastewater injection.

Kansas Geological Survey expects to have a report for the KCC and Kansas Department of Health and Environment on the earthquakes.

“So we are continuing to study this and the available data sets we have,” said Miller.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Download the KSN News App and stay up-to-date wherever you are. You can even watch KSN News live for free!
Click here to get the app
Get it in the App store
Get it in the Google Play store

KSN Storm Track 3 Weather

Trending Stories