Governor Names Task Force to Study Recent Earthquakes

Concern that oil, gas activity may induce quakes drives effort to study data, learn more about quake causes.

Published on: Feb 20, 2014

Earthquakes of up to 3.8 on the Richter scale have rocked Harper and Sumner counties in recent months and similar quakes have become frequent in Oklahoma, with hundreds of quakes reported, some of them strong enough to rattle windows and knock pictures off of walls.

There is a concern that these earthquakes are being caused by oil and gas activity, particularly the injection of recovered water back into underground formations, something referred to as induced seismicity.

Public safety matter
Gov. Sam Brownback is responding to that concern with the appointment of a state task force to study and develop a State Action Plan for Induced Seismicity.

"This is a matter of public safety," said Brownback. "Recent seismic activity in south-central Kansas has raised concerns that fluid injection might be related. I have asked the task force to study the issue and report back with a State Action Plan."

"There is data that point to a possible correlation between fluid injection and seismic activity," said Rex Buchanan, Interim Director, Kansas Geological Survey. "We need to assess that data, get more information through seismic monitoring, and understand why the area has experienced increased seismic activity recently."
"There is data that point to a possible correlation between fluid injection and seismic activity," said Rex Buchanan, Interim Director, Kansas Geological Survey. "We need to assess that data, get more information through seismic monitoring, and understand why the area has experienced increased seismic activity recently."

The task force members include Rex Buchanan, Interim Director, Kansas Geological Survey; Kim Christiansen, Executive Director, Kansas Corporation Commission; and Mike Tate, Chief, Bureau of Water, Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

"There is data that point to a possible correlation between fluid injection and seismic activity," Buchanan said. "We need to assess that data, get more information through seismic monitoring, and understand why the area has experienced increased seismic activity recently."

Cornerstone industry
Oil and gas is a cornerstone industry in Kansas generating nearly $4.3 billion each year, and employing 118,000 Kansans each day. The task force has been directed to ensure the safety of all Kansans, and to consider the impacts to industry and the environment. The plan will also include an assessment of Kansas' seismic monitoring capabilities to determine if additional resources are needed to accomplish better monitoring.

The task force will hold a meeting with invited industry and stakeholders on April 16 at the Eugene M. Hughes Metropolitan Complex, Wichita State University, 5015 E. 29th Street N., in Wichita. For more information, please contact the Kansas Corporation Commission at 785-271-3140.