Earthquakes are possible in NE Kansas

MANHATTAN (KSNT) – We had our own earthquake Monday in Southern Kansas. The 3.0 temblor just northwest of Harper shook the ground a bit, but did no damage. Still, it’s a reminder that Kansas does have several earthquake fault lines running through it, the most active of which is near Manhattan.

“I did not know there were a lot of earthquakes, I know that there are other weather events,” Manhattan resident Sydney Alexis says.

Earthquakes in Kansas are something most people just don’t think about. The last time Kansas had a large earthquake was 1867 and had a magnitude of 5.5 on the Richter Scale. But the city of Manhattan, with a population of just over 52,000 sits just 12 miles from the state’s most active fault line, the Humboldt Fault. So earthquakes are something the city and county plan for.

“There is a building standard for the kind of earthquake area we are in,” Emergency Management Director for Riley County Pat Collins says.

Fortunately, most earthquakes that happen in the area are less than three on the Richter Scale. One indication of how seriously officials take the earthquake threat can be found at the Tuttle Creek Dam, which recently underwent millions of dollars in renovations to make it less susceptible to quakes. Thousands of people would be in danger if the dam were to be damaged.

“We did come up with some evacuation plans for catastrophic event like that,” Collins says.

But it could take anywhere from 10-24 hours to evacuate people to safety. So in 2010, the Army Corps of Engineers added 351 concrete walls underground to to stabilize the dam. That was a $90,000,000 project. So local officials have planned for the worst and hope for the best.

“And you never know, low magnitude can transform into high magnitude, but that is unlikely,” K-State Professor Bimal Paul says.

One thing anyone who lives near an earthquake fault line should consider having is an earthquake preparedness kit. For information on those kits, a great resource is the American Red Cross.

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