Increase of seismic activity in Jewell County, KS

Earthquake in Jewell County, KS in July 2022.
Earthquake in Jewell County, KS in July 2022.(US Geological Survey)
Published: Jul. 30, 2022 at 12:35 AM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Scientists with the Kansas Geological Survey are trying to figure out why there’s been an increase in earthquakes near the Nebraska-Kansas border.

Senior Scientist Rick Miller said there have been 693 recorded earthquakes in Jewell County, KS since 2013, and of those, 105 have been felt.

“Just south of that border we started to see seismicity starting in 2013 at what would be an unusual but not unheard of level,” said Miller. “We have not had any seismicity in that area that we know of since the 1800s.”

Miller said usually you don’t feel earthquakes until they are a magnitude of 2.4 or higher.

Within 10 days, the residents of Jewell County and surrounding areas, including residents in Superior, have been feeling the ground shake.

On July 17, a magnitude 3.7 earthquake shook Jewell County, KS just before 8 a.m., then on July 26 a 3.6 earthquake happened two miles from the previous one.

Miller said he believes the first quake felt on July 17 was the main shock and the most recent one was an after shock.

He said it’s not common to have back to back quakes happening near the border but it is something that is happening more often.

The team at the Kansas Geological Survey are questioning what is triggering these quakes.

Miller said the question is what is the catalyst.

“We don’t know,” he said. “More than likely the significant increase in seismicity has to be related to a pressure change. The tectonics don’t change that rapidly. The earth changes but it takes millions of years for the earth to change significantly, especially stress fields.”

Miller said he wouldn’t be surprised if this area starts to see more of these smaller quakes.

He said to think of them the same way you do when it comes to hearing thunder or seeing lightning, be aware of them and know it may happen.

Miller said they are not alarmed yet as these earthquakes are not at a level where they are concerned about structural damage or someone being trapped by a falling house.

They hope to continue to study data to try to figure out what natural trigger is causing this increase in quakes in this area of Kansas.

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