Hutchinson earthquakes under investigation

Posted: Updated:
Sam Brown (Hutchinson) Sam Brown (Hutchinson)
RENO COUNTY, Kan. (KAKE) -

In an effort to determine the cause of a series of earthquakes in the Hutchinson area, the Kansas Corporation Commission has started investigating recent injection well activity in Reno County.

The investigation comes amid damage reports and concerns for public safety. The KCC will determine whether any further action is needed to safeguard Kansans.

The area being studied in Reno County mainly focuses on Arbuckle Formation depth wells and involves both Class ll oil and gas industry injection wells regulated by the KCC and Class l wells regulated by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).

  • Class ll wells are used to inject fluids associated with oil and natural gas production into deep confined rock formations. There are two types of Class ll injection wells: disposal wells and secondary/enhanced recovery injection wells. Disposal wells are used to inject produced fluids into rock formations that do not produce oil or gas. Typically, the injection formations are isolated from usable quality groundwater and are sealed above and below by cementing steel casing into the unbroken and impermeable well bore and rock formations within the well. Secondary/enhanced recovery injection wells are used to inject produced fluids back into formations/reservoirs that contain oil or gas. These formations are also isolated from usable quality groundwater. The injection of produced fluid back into potentially productive formations often allows for the increased recovery of oil or gas reserves.
  • Class l wells are used to inject hazardous and non-hazardous industrial and municipal wastewater into deep, confined rock formations. Disposal typically occurs thousands of feet below the lower most underground source of drinking water (USDW). Industries that utilize Class I wells include: refining, metal production, chemical manufacturing, pharmaceutical industry, commercial disposal, food production and municipal wastewater treatment. 

The KCC is working with other state agencies to gather information on well construction, depths, injection volumes, pressures, maintenance practices and any new injection well activity in the area.

The investigation is ongoing and a timeline for completion has not been determined. 

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.

MORE SLIDESHOWS HERE