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BREAKING: 4.8 Earthquake Rattles Areas of Kansas, Oklahoma

According to U.S. Geological Survey reports, an earthquake measuring 4.8 in magnitude rattled the region southwest of Wichita, Kansas, around 3:30 p.m. local time.

Another recent quake in area was reported nearly 3 miles northwest of Anthony, Kansas, at a magnitude 2.8, Tuesday, and was followed by the 4.8 magnitude 8 miles southwest of Conway Springs, 40 miles southwest of Wichita.

"At 3:41 p.m., a substantial earthquake was felt in Wichita," Wichita-based AccuWeather Inc. Enterprise Solutions Vice President Mike Smith said. "I know that people felt it from as far south as Norman, Oklahoma, and northwest Arkansas."

Earthquakes in the region have been becoming increasing more frequent in neighboring Oklahoma and higher in magnitude, according to recent reports. But many of them have not reached this magnitude.

Frequent, rumbling tremors beneath the earth may be a common occurrence in California, but Oklahoma has now surpassed the state in the number of earthquakes felt this year - a trend that is surprising geophysicists and raising concern.

"It is actually very surprising to us as well," Pasadena, California-based U.S. Geological Survey Geophysicist Elizabeth Cochran said in July.

Between 1975 and 2008, only an average of two earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or greater would occur each year in Oklahoma.

Changes in pressure near faults in Oklahoma that surpass the fault's critical pressure threshold are likely the cause of the seismic activity surge.

The cause for this increase does not appear to be natural and has likely been induced by fluid injection, part of the crude oil and gas industry's disposal of wastewater through the creation of wastewater wells.

The injection of wastewater fluids deep into the ground can lubricate existing, dormant faults and change the stress and pressure of the fault, leading to increased seismic activity, Cochran said.

"These quakes tend to be shallower," she said. "At this point, we do not think this is a natural variation."

The largest event in Oklahoma to occur in the past century was a 5.6-magnitude quake that struck in November 2011.

"That was the largest event linked to injection," Cochran said.

With the growing number of quakes in the region, the hazards associated with an even larger event occurring near a major metropolitan area are raising eyebrows among geophysicists.

"That is our big concern," Cochran said.

Correction: Previously this article stated that the 2.8 magnitude quake occurred on Wednesday within 20 minutes of the recent 4.8 quake. According to USGS, the 2.8 quake occurred Tuesday.