earthquakes | KCUR

earthquakes

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

When a ban might not be a ban

Legislators set out this year to make telemedicine more practical in Kansas. They drafted a law that would force insurance companies to pay for some services offered over video hook-ups the same way as in-person visits.

But that bill became controversial when anti-abortion forces added language that seemed to stop a physician from administering drugs, over telemedicince links, intended to trigger a medical abortion.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Fill ’er up

Pavement wears down at the same rate whether the cars and trucks rolling over it rely on internal combustion engines for locomotion or on new-fangled hybrid and electric motors.

Yet Kansas, like most other states, relies on gasoline taxes for much of the cost of building its roads and keeping them in reasonable shape.

New research out of Stanford University shows that limiting wastewater injection is helping to prevent man-made earthquakes in Kansas and Oklahoma.

The researchers have created a new physics-based model that can better predict where man-made earthquakes will occur by looking at increases in pressure. The model shows that the number of earthquakes is driven by how much wastewater is being injected into the ground.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

MKGA

On the eve of the Kansas Republican primary for governor, President Donald Trump tweeted his endorsement of Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Little more than a week later, when Kobach could finally claim victory, he stood at the foot of the state Capitol and promised to do for Topeka what Trump’s done for Washington. Trump, he promised, was coming to campaign for him.

This week, that campaign promise looks pretty strong.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

A decade ago, Kansans felt an earthquake once every few years. Now ground tremors come regularly. One of the hardest hit areas is Harper County in the south central part of the state.

It’s no coincidence, scientists and state regulators agree, that Harper and Sumner counties are also where massive amounts of wastewater has been pumped below ground by outfits drilling for oil and natural gas.

file photo / KCUR 89.3

Kansas regulators have found that more than one thousand applications for new wastewater disposal wells failed to give the required 30-day public notice period.

Since October 2008, applicants hoping to get approval to begin operating wastewater disposal wells have been required to alert the public about a 30-day protest period.

Kansas Geological Survey

Zack Pistora of the Kansas Sierra Club was worried about the number of earthquakes in the state and wanted to do something about it.

“Those earthquakes can cause damage to people’s homes, businesses, public buildings,” he said. “Right now there’s no recourse for those Kansans who get affected.”

U.S. Geological Survey

Saltwater injection. Fracking. Enhanced oil recovery.

News of protests in recent months against oil- and gas-related activity in the Flint Hills has drawn fresh attention to these and other terms — as well as some confusion.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas’ energy-regulating agency is trying to determine why permits were issued for half a dozen wastewater wells whose operators didn’t accurately inform nearby residents of their rights to protest the wells.

The deficiencies were discovered by a resident of Matfield Green in Chase County who objects to the wells, into which companies can pour hundreds or thousands of barrels of oil- and gas-related wastewater per day.

Cindy Hoedel wants the Kansas Corporation Commission to shut down the wells and make the companies in question redo the application process.

Courtesy Kansas Geological Survey

The governments of Douglas County and Lawrence are calling for changes to Kansas regulations amid an energy company’s proposal to pump wastewater into wells in rural Eudora.

Among their concerns, the local officials argue that the public deserves a 60-day protest period — twice as long as the current allowance — when companies seek to operate such wells in or near their communities.

Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman said the goal is “good public process.”

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

The fight over an oil-related waste disposal well in Kansas’ Flint Hills has broadened into a campaign to protest similar wells across several counties and lobby lawmakers for regulatory changes.

Sarah Craig/Faces of Fracking / Flickr - CC

While scientists have gained a clearer understanding of what's causing recent earthquakes in the Great Plains, they haven't reached a point where people can let their guard down. That's according to Heather DeShon, associate professor and seismologist at Southern Methodist University.

"The earthquakes in Oklahoma and parts of Kansas ... have been linked to a process called wastewater injection," she says.

In that process, large volumes of salty, briny water are deposited into cavities in deep rock layers, says DeShon.

Jimmy Emerson, DVM / Flickr Creative Commons

Earthquakes in the Central U.S. have been steadily increasing due to oil production, gas extraction and disposal of wastewater. Seismologist Heather DeShon tells us if it is possible to mitigate the number of occurrences. Then, finding political common ground between parties. Mark Gerzon, president of the Mediators Foundation, explores cross-party cooperation in his most recent book, The Reunited States of America.

USGS

Updated: 10:40 p.m. 

Kansas City metro area residents on Sunday night experienced rattling windows and shifting furniture due to another Oklahoma earthquake. 

According to the Associated Press, "The U.S. Geological Survey reported the earthquake struck at 7:44 p.m., with an epicenter located one mile west of Cushing, about 50 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. The USGS initially stated it was a magnitude 5.3 earthquake but lowered that rating to 5.0."

When you think of earthquakes, you think of California and Japan, but not usually southeast Missouri. As the most seismically active region of the country this side of the Rockies, maybe that should change. Experts say a big tremor's only a matter of time, and Kansas City needs to be ready with a helping hand when the shake-up happens.

Guests:

  • Mike Curry is the Jackson County emergency manager.
  • Jeff Fox is a reporter and business editor at The Examiner.

USGS

A 5.6 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter 14 kilometers northwest of Pawnee, Oklahoma, was felt around the Kansas City metro Saturday morning.

The tremor hit around 7:02 a.m., jolting many Kansas Citians from their holiday weekend slumbers.

HHI

A three-member team from Lenexa-based medical nonprofit Heart to Heart International arrived in Ecuador Sunday night, less than 24 hours after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the Central American nation.

As of Monday morning, international news organizations were reporting at least 272 people had died and more than 2,500 had been injured. 

Earthquakes are more frequent than ever in Oklahoma, and they're hitting harder. KCUR's Frank Morris visits Kansas's neighbor to the South and gets perspectives and stories from those directly affected by the situation. Is the cornerstone of that state's economy shaking its foundation?

Kansas Geological Survey

Oklahoma is experiencing more earthquakes than ever before due to a process for disposing waste water, which has increased due to oil fracking.

In Kansas, earthquake activity in the last few months has also seen a dramatic increase.

Officials with the Kansas Geological Survey told legislators Monday they suspect recent earthquakes were caused by oil and gas production practices.

Rex Buchanan, interim director of the Kansas Geological Survey, said a byproduct of the drilling process that is disposed of in wells could be increasing seismic activity in the state.

“The scientific and regulatory community is focused on salt water from these disposal wells as a possible cause of the seismicity,” he said.

Memorial For Local Doctor To Be Held This Weekend

Apr 8, 2010
Photos courtesy of Lucy Vaughters

Kansas City, Mo. – Local pediatrician Frank Vaughters was on a medical mission in Haiti when the massive earthquake struck the country in January. After weeks of uncertainty, friends and family received word that his remains have been found. His sister, Lucy Vaughters, says the news has brought some welcomed relief.

"There's some kind of feeling of finality," Vaughters says. "And the truth is a good thing, even though the truth is awful in this case."