Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Two southern Kansas counties had more earthquakes in two weeks than state had from 1990-2013; likely triggered by injection wells

From Oct. 15-26 two south-central Kansas counties had 52 reported earthquakes, more than the entire state had from 1990 to 2013, Ryan Schuessler reports for The Washington Post. The state, which had 19 reported earthquakes from 1990 to 2010, had none in 2011 and 2012 and four in 2013, before experiencing 817 in 2014, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The rise in earthquakes is being blamed on increased hydraulic fracturing, especially along the border of Oklahoma, which in 2014 led the lower 48 states in earthquakes with 585 of magnitude 3 or higher and has already surpassed that total this year. The number of wells in Kansas has grown from 2,000 in 2000 to 7,000 in 2014. (Hutchinson News graphic: Earthquakes from Oct. 14-20 in Harper and Sumner counties in Kansas)

Rex Buchanan, interim director of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas, "said fracking has been going on in Kansas since the 1940s, but the recent innovation of horizontal drilling—instead of vertical—requires more water," Schuessler writes. "The wastewater is injected into disposal wells—'not exactly where it came from,'  Buchanan said. He added that the earthquakes are likely being caused by the wastewater disposal wells, not the act of drilling itself," He told Schuessler, “In Kansas, you produce a lot more saltwater than you do oil in the oil and gas production process. We’re dealing with much greater volumes of water than ten years ago.”

Harper and Sumner counties had 40 reported earthquakes from Oct. 14-20, John Green reports for The Hutchinson News. Harper County had 28 earthquakes from Oct. 6-12, including nine on Oct. 11 and seven on Oct. 12, while Sumner County experienced four earthquakes that week, Green writes in a separate story.

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