Earthquakes spark more questions

WICHITA, Kansas – The U.S. Geological Survey says an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.3 struck northern Oklahoma on Monday night.

The USGS reports the quake with an epicenter about 15 miles west-southwest of Medford hit around 9:45 p.m. at a depth of about 4.7 miles.

The USGS says the quake was felt to the south, including in the Oklahoma City area, and in southern Kansas, including near Dodge City, Great Bend and Wichita.

“There’s definitely been a lot more activity especially in Oklahoma,” says Vanessa Pearce with the National Weather Service. “Oklahoma has seen just an explosion of earthquakes. Several earthquakes a week, and it’s just been out of normal, obviously.”

“Here we’re not used to it,” said geologist Douglas Davis, Jr. “We’re used to tornadoes and so when things start moving around here, everyone around here gets a little worried.”

But that seems to be turning into the new normal in Kansas.

However, just what’s causing the movement below the surface is still up for debate with some saying fracking and the oil industry are to blame while others say it’s natural movement connected to mountains in Oklahoma and faults found throughout Kansas.

“It’s not of the last 50 or 100 years,” Davis noted. “Which is when we started running seismographs and knowing what’s going on, but that doesn’t mean that 300 years ago or 200 years ago it wasn’t normal.”

Still, officials do say that the number of earthquakes we’ve seen this year, compared to years past, shows something is happening.

“Probably three or four or five a year maybe, now we’re talking about 200 already this year. Who knows what it’s going to turn into and that’s a lot of concern by a lot of people,” David said. “What’s going on? And again we just don’t know.”

But the big question: Should we expect more seismic activity in the next few years? It could be possible.

“Since they have so many of them and depending on how close to the border and how strong they are, I would expect that people in Kansas are going to feel them,” Pearce commented. “That’s just the reality of that many earthquakes occurring.”

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