In August of 2016, we reported that an earthquake of 5.6 magnitude with an epicenter near Pawnee OK was felt on 27 August across the Midwest, including in Lawrence KS. The Oklahoma Geological Survey said that it considers the cause very likely to be wastewater wells from oil and gas fracking operations. With virtually no significant tectonic activity since the Pennsylvanian and Permian periods, Oklahoma has seen an unnatural jump in earthquakes in direct parallel with fracking operations. In 2009 there were only 3 quakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater, yet in 2013 there were 109, in 2014 there were 585, and in 2015 there were 907. Oklahoma has thousands of fracking wells, far more than does Kansas, in part because the geological formations are more favorable, but also because their former Attorney General worked hand in glove with the oil industry – Scott Pruitt.
Fracking was invented at the University of Kansas in the late 1940’s, and the first vertical fracking well was drilled in 1947. Since 2009, the industry has turned to horizontal fracking, extending sideways for thousands of feet from the bore hole. In 2012 over 140 horizontal wells were drilled in the state, up from 50 in 2011 and 10 in 2010. The Kansas Geological Survey links earthquakes to fracking waste disposal, and has increased restrictions as a result of the 2016 frackquakes – Kansas tightens fracking restrictions.
Until now, Kansas fracking has clustered near the Oklahoma border, but in January of 2017, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) received a fracking application for near Burdick KS. This is in the heart of the Flint Hills, about 100 miles north of Wichita, and 30 miles south of Junction City. The application has been wending its way through the KCC hearing process, and receiving lots of opposition from farmers and ranchers, as well as city dwellers – Fracking the Flint Hills?. In addition to being only 14 miles from the National Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, the site is in the Humboldt Fault Zone near the Nemaha Uplift. This geological fault zone has been of serious concern for the Wolf Creek Nuclear Plant, though the operators say it is designed to withstand a 7.0 Richter scale earthquake. If you are concerned about pressurized fracking waste water being injected into the rock under the Flint Hills, you might want to send you comments to the KCC at – Stop fracking operations in the Flint Hills of Kansas near the National Tall Grass Preserve.