Small earthquake northwest of Kersey felt across northern Colorado
A small earthquake Sunday morning rattled a rural area near Kersey and near two other minor earthquakes that occurred two years ago.
The epicenter is believed to be about a mile northwest of Kersey. The 3.1 magnitude earthquake is categorized as a small quake on the Richter scale and occurred about 10 a.m. Sunday, one half mile north of U.S. 34 and one half mile west of Weld County Road 53, according to latitude/longitude readings on the U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center website.
A 3.1 magnitude quake is nothing to be concerned about, according to Paul Caruso, a geophysicist at the USGS National Earthquake Information Center in Golden.
“People would feel a little bit of shaking, maybe see lamps swinging back and forth,” he said. “We don’t expect to see any damage from a quake this size.”
The USGS has received 36 reports of feeling the earthquake. Most reports were from Greeley, a few from Evans, Eaton, Johnstown and one from Louisville.
Though a 3.1 is considered a mild quake, many residents like Karina Sanchez reported more than lamps swinging.
Sanchez, who lives in a trailer near the Greeley Mall, was in bed when the quake hit. She said it caused shaking for about three to five seconds, and was severe enough to make her trailer shake.
Initially, she thought nearby construction had done something to cause the rumble, but she said it was much stronger than what she thought construction could do.
“It felt like the whole trailer was actually shaking,” she said from work at Kramer’s Wedge Store in Kersey on Sunday evening. “I thought maybe someone was trying to break into the trailer.”
Sanchez called her friend and coworker, Audrey Ault, after the earthquake.
Ault lives close by Sanchez in Greeley but said she didn’t notice the quake at all and didn’t believe Sanchez until hearing more reports later.
Emergency Medical Services reserve member Sheena Soliz of the Platte Valley Fire Protection said there were no reports of damages in the Kersey area Sunday. The department was conducting training at the time of the earthquake, and Soliz said none of the staff felt shaking personally.
The quake likely will spark more concerns about injection wells from oil and gas drilling activity in Weld County. Two small quakes northeast of Greeley were recorded May 31 and June 23, 2014. They registered 3.2 and 2.8 on the Richter scale, respectively, and both were attributed to a nearby injection well. Both earthquakes also were centered northeast of Greeley, and north of Kersey.
Injections wells are not associated with fracking or drilling of oil wells, but they are used to dispose of wastewater produced from drilling activity. Companies inject the wastewater into the wells, which are typically deeper than those drilled for oil and gas. If there are faults or fissures underground, the water can fill the fissure and act as a lubricant, which can lead to shifting that causes earthquakes.
There are about 30 injection wells in Weld County.
A nearby injection well, one near the Greeley-Weld County Airport, was ordered shut down after the 2014 quakes and seismic studies were conducted by the University of Colorado. That injection well was allowed to reopen and there has been no other earthquake activity in the region, until Sunday.
According to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission records, another injection well is at Weld County roads 54 and 49, about 2.5 miles southeast of the epicenter.
The COGCC’s online geographic information system, which provides data about oil and gas activities in Colorado, shows a well by PDC Energy at the same location as the epicenter. It has a status of “drilling,” according the COGCC.