Could We Be Wrong About Where “The Big One” Will Strike? Earthquakes Are Occurring in Areas We NEVER Expected

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

Last week, a county in central Kansas experienced something quite unusual for the region: within a five day period, there were eleven earthquakes. Kansas is not a particularly earthquake-prone state, taking spot #41 on the U.S. Earthquake Index. This means that the chance of earthquake damage in Kansas is much lower than the national average.

This shocking increase in seismic activity began with a magnitude-2.4 earthquake last Wednesday morning. The quake occurred around 2 1/2 miles southwest of Hutchinson, Kansas, in Reno County, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). It was followed by ten more earthquakes, reports The Kansas City Star:

The second came just before 8 a.m. on Friday. The magnitude-4.2 shook the area, centered less than a mile southwest of Wednesday’s temblor. More than 1,000 people reported feeling the quake across Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, according to the USGS.

It wouldn’t be the last quake on Friday. A magnitude-3.1 quake shook the ariea about 10 minutes later followed by four more tremors through the day ranging from magnitude 2.4 to 3.0, according to the USGS.

Seismic activity in the area continued on Saturday with three more quakes — magnitudes 2.0 to 3.0 — before a magnitude 4.1 shook the area early Sunday morning, according to the USGS. (source)

Rick Miller, director of the Kansas Geological Survey in Lawrence, told The Hutchinson News that while the region does have a history of small quakes, last week’s activity was unusual:

“There’ve been about a dozen micro-level events, from 1.7 to 2.2, in Reno County in the prior six months,” Miller said. “They had slowed dramatically from what was earlier.”

“This (the 4.2) was not unexpected in terms of magnitude,” Miller said. “It was not unreasonable based on the recursion situation, the number of 2′s and 3′s you’ve had.”

“It’s hard to believe there will be anything bigger than a 4.2,” Miller said “You don’t have a long enough (fault) structure for that. It’s not outside the realm of possibility for something a little larger, but that’s as close to the top end you’ll see, based on the size of the structure where it occurred.”

The previous quakes that have occurred in the region have revealed the extent of the shallow faults, Miller said.

While Reno County has been quiet this summer, there has been a jump in events in other places around the state, including the third largest quake scientists are aware of in the state in Rooks County in June.

Miller said that June 22 quake was recorded as a magnitude 4.8, though the USGS website listed it as a magnitude 4.6.

“It didn’t get much attention,” he noted. “The area has had them before, back in the 80s … This area has been active for about 30 years. But this is larger than out of the ordinary for what we’ve seen across Kansas. They’ve just never been this big and focused in this area.” (source)

In some parts of the US, the number of earthquakes has increased dramatically.

According to a report from USGS, within the central and eastern United States, the number of earthquakes has increased dramatically over the past few years.

The number of earthquakes in the central U.S. has increased dramatically over the past decade. Between the years 1973–2008, there was an average of 25 earthquakes of magnitude three and larger in the central and eastern United States. Since 2009, the average number of M3 earthquakes has jumped to 362 per year. The rate peaked in 2015 with 1010 M3+ earthquakes.

Since 2015 the earthquake rate has declined, with 690 and 364 M3+ earthquakes in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Nonetheless, this rate is far higher than the average of 25 earthquakes per year. Most of these earthquakes are in the magnitude 3–4 range—large enough to have been felt by many people—yet small enough to rarely cause damage. Damage has been caused by some of the larger events, including the M5.8 Pawnee and M5.0 Cushing Oklahoma earthquakes that occurred in 2016. (source)

Induced earthquakes – those that are caused by man – may be one cause of this increased frequency. Disposal of waste fluids that are a byproduct of oil production is the primary cause of the recent increase in earthquakes in the central United States. Fracking may cause some as well. To read more about induced earthquakes, please see this report: Induced Earthquakes

Earthquakes are not increasing in frequency overall, however.

While this activity is outside of the norm for Kansas, earthquakes overall are not increasing in frequency, according to USGS:

A temporary increase or decrease in seismicity is part of the normal fluctuation of earthquake rates. Neither an increase or decrease worldwide is a positive indication that a large earthquake is imminent.

The ComCat earthquake catalog contains an increasing number of earthquakes in recent years not because there are more earthquakes, but because there are more seismic instruments and they are able to record more earthquakes.

The National Earthquake Information Center now locates about 20,000 earthquakes each year, or approximately 55 per day. As a result of the improvements in communications and the increased interest in natural disasters, the public now learns about earthquakes more quickly than ever before.

According to long-term records (since about 1900), we expect about 16 major earthquakes in any given year, which includes 15 earthquakes in the magnitude 7 range and one earthquake magnitude 8.0 or greater. In the past 44 years, from 1973 through 2017, our records show that we have exceeded the long-term average number of major earthquakes only 11 times, in 1976, 1990, 1995, 1999, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2016.

The year with the largest total was 2010, with 24 earthquakes greater than or equal to magnitude 7.0. In other years the total was well below the 16 per year expected based on the long-term average:  1989 only saw 6, while 1988 saw only 7 major earthquakes. (source)

Small earthquakes happen quite often in the US. Take a look at this live map to see the most recent (a few occurred as I was writing this article!) Earthquake Map

Recently, scientists discovered what triggers big earthquakes.

The vast majority of earthquakes we feel come soon after smaller ones, according to new research that provides unprecedented insights into how seismology works.

Previously, scientists believed that only half of all moderate quakes had smaller precursor events. But after studying Southern California quakes of at least magnitude 4 between 2008 and 2017, scientists found that at least 72% of them followed less-powerful earthquakes.

Days (or even weeks) before quakes of 4.0 or higher magnitude occur, smaller ones ripple beneath the Earth’s surface. This activity can be detected by an advanced computing technique. The smaller earthquakes that precede larger ones in the same location are called foreshocks. An earthquake cannot be identified as a foreshock until after a larger earthquake in the same area occurs.

“One of the biggest questions in earthquake seismology is how earthquakes get started,” said the study’s lead author, Daniel Trugman, a seismologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The breakthrough in the study, published earlier this summer in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, was made possible by the discovery of a new technique to find very small earthquakes – quakes as small as magnitudes 0 and 1, and some as small as magnitude negative 2.

Quakes can now have negative magnitudes because this new technique allows for observation of quakes so small they were previously thought to be undetectable.

It is important to understand that larger quakes do not always follow smaller ones.

Earthquakes cannot be predicted.

While quakes cannot be predicted, earthquake forecasts can be made, providing the probability that an earthquake of a given size or larger will occur in an area (like Northern California) over a certain timeframe. A forecast only provides information on the likelihood of an event occurring in a (large) timeframe, not a certainty as to whether or not it will occur.

Scientists can calculate the probability that a significant earthquake will occur in a specific area within a certain number of years (usually several decades or more), but currently, it is nearly impossible to predict when a quake is imminent.

According to USGS,

Predictions (by non-scientists) usually start swirling around social media when something happens that is thought to be a precursor to an earthquake in the near future. The so-called precursor is often a swarm of small earthquakes, increasing amounts of radon in local water, unusual behavior of animals, increasing size of magnitudes in moderate size events, or a moderate-magnitude event rare enough to suggest that it may be a foreshock.

Unfortunately, most such precursors frequently occur without being followed by an earthquake, so a real prediction is not possible. Instead, if there is a scientific basis, a forecast may be made in probabilistic terms. (source)

Statistically speaking, only 5% of earthquakes are followed by larger ones. The new study’s findings do not mean researchers are any closer to predicting the exact timing and epicenters of big earthquakes.

Because we can’t predict earthquakes, it is best to be prepared for them.

Even if you live in a region that isn’t commonly shaken by earthquakes, planning for them is a good idea. This is because there currently is no earthquake prediction system. Quakes can occur anywhere – at any time – so if you have not prepared for one, now is the time to get started.

If you live in a seismic zone, you probably already have plans in place (if not, it is time to do that!).

To view seismic hazard maps, please click here: Seismic Hazard Maps and Site-Specific Data

To view induced seismic hazard models, please click here: Short-term Induced Seismicity Models

To learn what to do before the shaking begins, please see How to Prepare Your Home for an Earthquake

Go here to learn how to survive an earthquake and check out Daisy’s book, Be Ready for Anything to get prepared for a lengthy aftermath.

What do you think?

Have you ever experienced an earthquake? Are you prepared for earthquakes? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author

Dagny Taggart is the pseudonym of an experienced journalist who needs to maintain anonymity to keep her job in the public eye. Dagny is non-partisan and aims to expose the half-truths, misrepresentations, and blatant lies of the MSM.

Picture of Dagny Taggart

Dagny Taggart

Dagny Taggart is the pseudonym of an experienced journalist who needs to maintain anonymity to keep her job in the public eye. Dagny is non-partisan and aims to expose the half-truths, misrepresentations, and blatant lies of the MSM.

Leave a Reply

  • So… What does one do to “prep” for an earthquake? Hmm?
    Seems if the earth opens a giant chasm and swallows my butt and/or everything I own, all those jars of peanut butter will be squished also.
    Running, riding or driving on moving fluid ground doesn’t work very well.
    And since I don’t own a helicopter, that option isn’t available to me or 99.99% of the population.
    Kind of like a tsunami (tidal wave) happening when out fishing all one can do is ride-r-out.

    • That’s true to an extent. We linked to an article with more information.

      But assuming a giant chasm doesn’t swallow your butt (I was laughing so hard at your description!) then you may be without power, running water, gas, or the ability to leave your house to pick up supplies because roadways may be too damaged to drive on. For that, you’re going to want to have a few things on hand. As well, there are some things you can do to prepare your house so that unless the whole thing comes crashing down, your peanut butter jars don’t get squished. 🙂

      Have a great day!

      • After the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco, there was no problem getting around except for the Bay bridge being down, but we couldn’t get any supplies at the local grocery store because the electricity was out. The clerks couldn’t add up purchases without their cash registeres,, which needed electricity. So they closed the store.

    • Doug you place your shoes by the bed because broken glass and legos that fall off the shelf aren’t fun. You identify and area the family can go to where things don’t fall such as an open field. You can walk in most quakes depending on the size. You make sure there is a lip on the shelf so your jars of PB don’t fall out. You learn how ot shut off your power and gas so your house doesn’t catch on fire etc etc etc

  • I live in about 40 miles East of Hutchinson. We didn’t feel a thing here. It was explained on the news in Wichita that the quake was directed Northeast. If you weren’t directly in front of the shock waves, you felt nothing.

  • Most of our are caused by illegal and improper water disposal at fracking sites. In fact Kansas has been using our state to do so because of their laws and judging by those quakes sites I’d be taking a much harder look at some illegal dumping by the oil industry.

    • No, Matt, there is no human activity which has the energy to move tectonic plates, which is what an earthquake is. Pinprick wells on a massive plate cause exactly nothing. It is like claiming that mosquito bites cause a person to move. The only problem with that analogy is that the ratio of energy between a mosquito and a human is hundreds or even thousands of times the energy ratio of human wells and tectonic plates.

  • Lots of people have been predicting/expecting the New Madrid fault to make a major adjustment in the near future. In the area around the New Madrid fault, in the last couple of weeks, there have been more than 60 small earthquakes. A major move of that fault will cause a lot of destruction through the midwest, because buildings aren’t constructed to earthquake standards in that area.

  • Ben Davidson & his colleagues over at (and on YT) have developed some surprisingly accurate earthquake prediction models. Involves Coronal Hole Streams, Blot Echoes, Outgoing Longwave Radiation, Atmospheric Pressure gradients, and other geophysical and geomagnetic parameters that I don’t claim to fully understand. Lots of info at both the ‘citizen science’ level as well as the PhD level here:

    • Destabilization from oilfield Horizontal Drilling followed by massive Fracking. How much Fresh Water is being consumed by Fracking?

  • I started watching Dutchsinse several years ago, and have learned SO MUCH!! Seriously, Daisy and Dagney, you should watch his updates and explanations…and predictions. Some of the wisest use of time I have spent.

  • Now that we know (because he said so) that Trump is God, perhaps he will stop all these troublesome earthquakes, global warming and assorted other problems that face we mortals.

    • Your attempt take an article about a natural disaster like earthquakes and make a absurd political statement is a blatant display of the divide we face in American.
      And how you compound it.

      I am inclined to agree with Matt in OK: you may need mental help.

  • Rather certain that the continuously and rapidly moving North Pole is affecting plate tectonics. Didn’t see that mentioned, but I could have missed it. This “movement” will affect all previously acquired data and change its relevance with regard to “where & when” earthquakes can occur.

    Also relevant: Biblical Prophecy which I regard much more highly than anything the “scientists and educated prognosticators” can dream up. Matthew 24:7, 28:2; Mark 13:8; & among others, Revelation 11:13, KJV.

    Besides being physically aware of the potential damage, might I suggest a spiritual one as well? If one is not certain of his/her eternity, NOW is the time to do so! 2 Corinthians 6:2, which see!

  • All the earthquake activity east of the Mississippi is probably the reactivation of the old tectonic plate boundary under the Appalacians.

    Several m5 earthquakes have struck New York City in the last 300 years.

  • I live in Kansas where the earthquakes were felt. They found out it was wastewater being shot up underground. This is concerning as I feel it is making it more unstable. I have prepared for other things, but now will prepare for earthquakes as not only are they happening in Kansas, we feel them from Oklahoma.

  • You Need More Than Food to Survive

    In the event of a long-term disaster, there are non-food essentials that can be vital to your survival and well-being. Make certain you have these 50 non-food stockpile essentials. Sign up for your FREE report and get prepared.

    We respect your privacy.
    Malcare WordPress Security