What causes an Earthquake?

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KSNT) – Some of you probably felt the earthquake in Oklahoma around here early Saturday morning. The earthquake has probably left you and many other people wondering how it happened. KSNT News talked with experts on how earthquakes happen and if there will be another one soon.

The epicenter of the Oklahoma earthquake was around 9 miles from Pawnee, OK.  The epicenter was where a 5.6 magnitude earthquake rocked several surrounding states like Kansas and Missouri.

“Earthquakes are created when you get movement in faults and knowing exactly what caused this particular earthquake, I think it is a little early for me to sit here and say,” Director of Kansas Geological Survey, Rex Buchanan said.

earthquakes in kansas articleAn article released in 2015 by the Kansas Geological Survey called ‘Induced Seismicity: The Potential for Triggered Earthquakes in Kansas reveals some earthquakes are caused by fracking and saltwater from oil and gas production.

“I think this is more of a wake-up call that this issue has not been resolved,” Buchanan said.

Kansas Geological Survey Director Rex Buchanan says there has been a change in the seismic activity in Kansas and Oklahoma.

“Oklahoma has had a big increase in seismicity over the past 4 or 5 years, so has south-central Kansas,” Buchanan said.

The Nemaha Fault Zone runs down the east-central part of Kansas. It is in Nemaha and Washington counties and also goes through parts of Manhattan according to Buchanan.

“That fault zone is really well known in Kansas because it produced one of the largest earthquakes that has ever been noted in the state which is about a 5 point 3 in 1867,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan says there is no need to about a major earthquake.

“It produces earthquakes but it is not hugely active,” Buchanan said.

But, when it comes to the possibility of a stronger earthquake in Oklahoma like the one that struck Saturday morning, expect the unexpected.

“You never assume that you have seen the largest thing that could happen so certainly, I’d say it is possible at this point,” Buchanan said.

The Kansas Geological Survey Article also says linking a specific earthquake to a specific human activity is difficult.

The earthquake today was the biggest one recorded in this region since 2011.

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