Eight earthquakes hit Wichita over the weekend

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A 3.9 magnitude earthquake near Wichita.// Courtesy Kansas Geological Survey

Eight earthquakes struck Kansas near Wichita this weekend. The first, around 6:30 a.m. March 14 had a magnitude of 3.5. Four more earthquakes hit that day. The second earthquake struck only minutes after the first, with a magnitude of 3.7. The next happened at 7:02 a.m. and had a magnitude of 3.2—it was followed by a 2.2 magnitude earthquake at 8:30 a.m. The last earthquake on the 14 was the biggest of the weekend. It had a magnitude of 3.9 and occurred at 6:08 p.m. More than 1,600 people reported feeling the strongest earthquake. 

On Monday, March 15, three more earthquakes hit the Wichita area. The first, just after midnight, was the smallest with a magnitude of 2.5. The magnitude of the earthquakes consecutively grew in size thereafter. The next, at 8:52 a.m., had a magnitude of 3.4, and the last of the day had a magnitude of 3.6 at 8:59 a.m.

Most damage from earthquakes happens once they reach a magnitude of 4 or higher. No damage or injuries were reported this weekend, but the series of earthquakes highlights a troubling trend. Kansas is one of the least likely states to have seismic activity, but earthquakes have increased in the state since 2013 when hydraulic fracking began

Scientists agree that when millions of gallons of wastewater from fracking operations are injected into the ground, seismic activity increases. When that wastewater floods fault zones, the earth’s crust slips more than it otherwise would have. 

The increase of earthquakes in Kansas is tied to the increase of earthquakes in Oklahoma. Both states have induced more earthquakes due to fracking, and the activity in one state affects the other. As fracking continues, the frequency and magnitude of earthquakes will continue to rise. 

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