Feds: Risk of 2016 quake increases, especially in Oklahoma

This image provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) shows the USGS forecast for damage from natural and induced earthquakes in the U.S. in 2016. Federal scientists say the chance of damaging earthquakes hitting east of the Rockies has increased significantly, much of it man-made as byproduct of drilling for energy. Oklahoma now has the nation’s highest with a 1 in 8 chance of damaging ground shaking in 2016, passing California. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

WICHITA, Kansas – Federal scientists are now saying that parts of the Midwest have an equal risk for damaging earthquakes as areas like California, often most associated with earthquake hazards.

This all comes after the U.S. Geological Survey released a new model today, assessing human-induced earthquakes for the first time.

KSN spoke to both Wichita city leaders and the USGS to learn more about what their most recent study found and what it means for Kansas.

According to this model, the place with the most risk is northern Oklahoma but it spreads into Kansas and as we already know, the damage is visible here in Wichita.

“There’s one or two times (that) I can think of it felt like somebody ran a car into the building,” said Ryan Ginn, a Wichita resident.

It’s the first time ever that USGS has included human-induced earthquake damage risks in their maps.

They say these Midwest quakes are largely a man-made byproduct of drilling for energy and waste water disposal, more commonly known as fracking.

According to their study, around 7 million people live and work in areas with the potential for damage caused by induced shaking.

“The oil digging that’s going on in Oklahoma is affecting us, I mean even further south, but in the Midwest growing up…I mean I grew up here and we didn’t have earthquakes. This is something new,” Ginn said.

“We thought that because of the prominence of the seismicity it was important to do another study and include the hazard from those events,” said Chuck Mueller with USGS.

According to the USGS, the states with the highest risk caused by induced shaking are Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas.

“As a consumer you may not know what you need to do, you know, to get your home assessed, to get your house checked out, to see if there’s any potential damage to your property,” said Wilma Germany, a Wichita resident.

The USGS says people living in areas with a higher risk should have a survival kit, much like one kept for tornadoes, stocked with food, water, and medicines.

The city of Wichita has begun using its own earthquake response plan involving earthquake inspections.

“What we did was we went ahead and put together a plan not knowing if we would ever need it or not but as you can tell from the last couple of events that we’ve had, we went ahead and deployed and it did work and we did find damages,” said Alan King, with Wichita Public Works and Utilities.

The city of Wichita is also looking into the possibility of placing new equipment in the taller, at-risk buildings that would record and assess the building’s movements during earthquakes and high wind events.

City leaders say it’s an ongoing process.

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