Margaret Morgan was awake at her home in Lake Quivira when she felt the quake.
Hers is a contemporary home, she said, lifted “on stilts” and built into a hill. When the shaking started, she called out to her husband, Ralph, in the kitchen.
“It shook the house and the lamp on the little glass table sitting next to me,” Morgan said. “It shook it. The lamp was teetering.”
A 5.6 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter 8.7 miles northwest of Pawnee, Okla. was felt throughout the Kansas City area shortly after 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, tying Oklahoma’s strongest earthquake record.
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Tremors from the quake were reported throughout Kansas City, Oklahoma and Kansas, as well as in Dallas, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; and Lincoln, Neb. The U.S. Geological Survey reported at least three aftershocks in northern Oklahoma after the 7:02 a.m. quake. In Wichita in south central Kansas, Sedgwick County emergency dispatchers received 66 calls from people dialing 911.
The earthquake likely will bring fresh attention to the practice of disposing oil and gas field wastewater deep underground. On Saturday, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which since 2013 has asked wastewater-well owners to reduce disposal volumes in parts of the state, directed about 35 wells within an approximately 500-square-mile area around the epicenter to shut down within seven to 10 days because of previous connections between the injection of wastewater and earthquakes.
“All of our actions have been based on the link that researchers have drawn between the Arbuckle disposal well operations and earthquakes in Oklahoma,” spokesman Matt Skinner said Saturday. “We’re trying to do this as quickly as possible, but we have to follow the recommendations of the seismologists, who tell us everything going off at once can cause an (earthquake).”
While the USGS said it would be difficult to correlate the quake to specific faults in the region immediately, the organization said in a statement posted on its website that it could not yet rule out that the quake was related to underground wastewater disposal practices conducted by the oil and gas industry.
“Without studying the specifics of the wastewater injection and oil and gas production in this area, the USGS cannot currently conclude whether or not this particular earthquake was caused by industrial-related, human activities,” the statement read. “However, we do know that many earthquakes in Oklahoma have been triggered by wastewater fluid injection. The USGS will continue to process seismic data in the following days and weeks that will help answer this question.”
The weather service in Tulsa, Okla., reported that the earthquake ties Oklahoma’s strongest quake record. The previous quake with a 5.6 magnitude was on Nov. 5, 2011. Oklahoma experienced a magnitude 5.1 earthquake on Feb. 13 of this year.
No damage was reported in western Missouri and eastern Kansas, according to the National Weather Service in Kansas City. In the Pawnee-area, rubble from buildings blocked the streets and residents shared photos of cracked housing foundations and broken windows.
Pawnee County Emergency Management Director Mark Randell told the Associated Press that no building collapses were reported in the town of 2,200. “We’ve got buildings cracked,” Randell said. “Most of it’s brick and mortar, old buildings from the early 1900s.”
Randell also said a man suffered a minor head injury when part of a fireplace fell on him as he protected a child. The man was treated and released.
The office of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin tweeted that state highway crews were checking for bridge damage and the state Department of Emergency Management would assess damage and determine how to address it.
According to a scale that the USGS uses to measure intensity felt by earthquakes, Shawnee, Okla., and Alka, Okla., would have been most affected, with the quake felt by most people in the area. Others living in areas in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas would have experienced windows, doors and walls moving and motor vehicles rocking.
According to that scale, most in the Kansas City-area likely experienced vibrations “similar to the passing of a large truck,” or rocking buildings, particularly for those who live on the upper floors of buildings.
Justin Jacobson, of Gladstone, was sleeping when he awakened to his room shaking. At first, he thought it was a dream. But he said he realized what he had experienced afterward, and read posts from others on Facebook who had felt the tremors.
“I think it might have been the most confusing 15 seconds of my life,” Jacobson said.
He was not the only one who wasn’t sure what to think of the strange sensations that many experienced in Kansas City on Saturday morning.
Sandy Crable, of Olathe, was sleeping with her husband when the bed began to shake. She said the couple wasn’t sure what was happening and ruled out a rumbling truck when the shaking lasted more than a minute. Gradually, the movement of their bed slowed until it wasn’t moving anymore.
“In my 64 years, I’ve never felt anything like this before,” Crable said. “So I didn’t know what it was, because I had never experienced it.”
Morgan, whose Lake Quivira home shook, said she got online and researched.
“It was like, ‘Okay,’ ” Morgan said. “This is something different.”
The Associated Press and The Wichita Eagle contributed to this report.