More quakes occur in county

Four earthquakes have struck Van Buren County in April, according to the Arkansas Geological Survey.

On April 3, the largest one occurred, registering 3.1 in magnitude, about 15 miles northwest of Damascus. Three others occurred on April 3 and one happened on April 4. All were within 7 miles West South West of Clinton. There was a small quake in late March as well.

According to the geological survey, there are three possibilities as to the cause of the quakes. They could be naturally occurring along an active fault system that runs through Van Buren and Faulkner counties, said a spokesman with the agency.

Another possibility is that changes in the water levels of Greers Ferry Lake is creating weight shifting in the geological composition in the area. The water level changes were caused by one of the worst droughts in the area in history.

The third possibility is that natural gas drilling and injection wells are causing the instability. After hundreds of quakes in Faulkner County around Guy and Greenbrier the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission in 2011 banned injection wells within 1,100 square miles. That ban did not reach into Van Buren County.

Injection wells are dug deep into the earth to dispose of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing.

As a result of the minor quakes, the Arkansas Geological Survey plans to install more seismic monitors near Damascus.