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Kansas task force explores possible fracking, earthquake link

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Gov. Sam Brownback last month asked the director of the Kansas Geological Survey to lead a task force that'll study whether human activity is causing an increase in minor earthquakes in Kansas. Gov. Sam Brownback last month asked the director of the Kansas Geological Survey to lead a task force that'll study whether human activity is causing an increase in minor earthquakes in Kansas.
FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV/AP) -

An incredible amount of earthquakes have rocked the Midwest since the first of the year, rattling the nerves of scientists who study the trembles.

Kansas officials are so concerned they have set out to find the cause of the quakes. The big concern is that Kansas is seeing more activity now than it ever has before.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported an earthquake recently shook southern Kansas.

The earthquake happened at 3:46 a.m. Sunday and measured 4.0 on the Richter scale. Its epicenter was reported eight miles east-northeast of Anthony in Harper County.

It was at least the second earthquake in a week in the area. Last Wednesday, a quake rated 3.4 on the Richter scale was recorded 14 miles east-northeast of Anthony.

And many more than usual have hit the Midwest since January, especially in Oklahoma.

The USGS reported Oklahoma has felt more than 500 earthquakes since the year started. Before, it averaged three a year.

Gov. Sam Brownback last month asked the director of the Kansas Geological Survey to lead a task force that will study whether human activity is causing an increase in minor earthquakes in Kansas.

Kansas has seen increased fracking for oil and gas in recent years in southern counties.

Rex Buchanan, the leading geologist of the task force, says the jury isn't out yet, but the earthquakes could be caused when crews return the waste fluids back into the ground during the process.

"A lot of times you'll produce 12 barrels of oil or even more and a barrel of saltwater for every barrel of oil, and then the saltwater is separated out from the oil and re-injected into deep formations," Buchanan said. "It may be in that re-injecting process that you may get the movement of faults that may not have moved otherwise."

Buchanan said some scientists also believe in a seasonal relationship between earthquake activity and water levels flowing in rivers.

He says it is not likely Kansas City will ever be at the center of an earthquake. The closest activity is in Lawrence or Topeka.

Buchanan will be discussing his findings at an upcoming meeting in Wichita in April.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

if hydraulic fracking is to blame.
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