Ellis County residents concerned about more earthquakes


ELLIS COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — Since last week, small earthquakes have been rattling Ellis County.

The quakes have produced some light shaking, and it’s been strong enough to cause some concern amongst residents.

“It’s a little strange,” said Ellis County resident Jessica McGuire. “We’re used to tornadoes around here, but definitely not used to earthquakes.”

Dr. Hendratta Ali, a professor of geology at Fort Hays State University, said she’s glad people are starting to talk about earthquakes in north central and northwest Kansas.

However, she said there’s no way to tell if larger quakes could be coming, until we learn more about them.

“What causes them to break is going to be the factor that determines whether the earthquake is going to happen frequently or not,” said Ali.

She says there are a lot of things that could be contributing, and knows some are concerned about groundwater disposal from fracking, but for the quakes in this region, there’s just not enough research yet.

Ali said, “Something is causing rocks to break. And if we look in our lives, and the communities that we live in, there’s a lot of things we do that breaks rocks.”

One example, she says, is construction.

“On a small-scale, it is not meaningful, but if you’re constructing large infrastructure, high-rises or roads, things that make you put explosives into rocks and blast, you’re breaking rocks.”

Ali also points out there are historic fault lines that lay deep below the Ellis County surface.

Regardless of the cause, some residents say they’re taking notice.

“We are kind of concerned,” said Annie Bollig, an Ellis resident. “We want to contact our homeowners insurance and see if that’s covered or what the deal is in this part of the United States.”

Ali said she’s recently had many schools and community organizations reach out to learn more about earthquakes. She said that even though they haven’t been severe, it’s always better to be educated and prepared for another one.

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