Four seismic stations have been installed in south-central Kansas to study earthquakes. The sharp rise in tremors has corresponded to increased horizontal fracking for oil in the same area.
Tandis Bidgoli of the Kansas Geological Survey thinks disposal of the fracking wastewater could be related to the quakes. However, she cautions scientists can’t definitively say a relationship exists, or how it works geologically. She says it’s something her group is actively working on.
She does note the two counties – Harper and Sumner – which have seen the bulk of the increase in oil and gas activity in the past two years, along with the resulting increase in fluid disposal volumes, are the two counties where seismic activity originates. The U.S. Geological Survey documented 124 earthquakes in Kansas in 2014, compared to 32 the year before and none in 2012.
The temporary monitoring network was funded in mid-November after Governor Sam Brownback appointed a task force to study the earthquake activity. Three more monitoring stations will be ready by the end of the month.
Listen to Tandis Bidgoli discuss the relationship between a rise in horizontal fracking for oil and resulting disposal of wastewater, and an increase in earthquakes in two south-central Kansas counties.