Second earthquake rattles same area in south-central Kansas

For the second time in less than two months, a light earthquake has shaken the same area in Sumner County in south-central Kansas.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 3.9 was recorded shortly after 3 a.m. Monday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo.

The epicenter was about 11 miles northwest of Caldwell, which is on the Kansas-Oklahoma line. The location was about one mile east of the Harper County line.

That’s the same location for the epicenter of a 3.8 magnitude earthquake that was recorded on Dec. 16 by USGS.

“It’s very unusual to have two in such a short amount of time in that part of the world,” said Paul Caruso, a geophysicist with the USGS in Golden, Colo.

He said he doesn’t think the two quakes are signs of bigger things to come.

“In that area, there’s no major fault lines like there are in California that can produce a major earthquake,” Caruso said.

He also noted that Oklahoma recorded one of its strongest earthquakes in 2010, with a 4.3 magnitude near Norman.

Small earthquakes in southern Kansas have been more common recently, with more than two dozen recorded over the past two years in Sumner, Harper and Barber counties, according to the Kansas Geological Survey. Northern Oklahoma has also seen quite a few recently, Caruso said.

As to why the increase, Caruso said, “That’s an interesting can of worms.”

Those areas have been the site of increased oil and gas drilling since January 2011. Scientists disagree on whether that causes the earthquakes, said Lynn Watney, a geologist who monitors the oil industry for KGS.

Most of the reports of people feeling effects of the earthquake came from Anthony and Bluff City in Harper County and Caldwell, according to the USGS website. There were multiple reports of Monday’s quake being felt as far away as Wichita and Stillwater, Okla.

No damage was reported from Monday’s quake, said James Fair, emergency management director for Sumner County.

“No cows tipped over,” he added.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle