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Minor quake sends year out with a bang

Staff writer

The year went out with a bang — or, at least, a weak rumble.

A minor earthquake was recorded at 5:24 p.m. Sunday 1½ miles east of Marion County Lake, near 170th and Victory Rds., just east of US-77.

The quake measured 2.0 on the open-ended Richter scale — a level at which no damage is caused and the lowest level at which quakes are noticeable by humans.

It was the county’s second earthquake in December. A 2.3-magnitude temblor was felt Dec. 16 south of 270th Rd. a mile east of Bluestem Rd. Another 2.0-magnitude quake was recorded a mile south of there in October.

All in all, 32 earthquakes were recorded in 2023 in Marion County. All but two were in the range of 2.0 to 2.8 in magnitude.

Three quakes of that magnitude were reported Sept. 11 in an area bounded by 220th, 240th, and Clover Rds. and the county line. Another was reported in that area in July, and six more were reported in that area in June.

Nearly all quakes within the county occur within that area or, secondarily, the area where Sunday’s quake was noted.

Only two of the county’s quakes last year exceeded magnitude 3.0 on the Richter scale — 10 times as powerful as the one Sunday and capable of shaking objects indoors but rarely causing damage.

They occurred June 4 southwest of 210th and Bluestem Rds. (magnitude 3.3) and March 7 (magnitude 3.0) northeast of 210th and Clover Rds.

According to the Kansas Geological Survey, most of the quakes occur in “basement” granite a little more than five miles beneath the surface.

Quakes in the region, known as the Nemaha uplift, where granite has pushed unusually close to the surface, are attributed by seismologists to geographic forces that created or were created by the Flint Hills.

Although more damaging earthquakes can occur anywhere, scientists say there’s no special danger of damaging quakes because of the minor temblors here.

Most quakes along the Nemaha uplift cannot be felt but they sometimes can be heard — a sound somewhat like thunder when deep, subterranean rocks crack.

Last modified Jan. 3, 2024

 

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