After 37 years with the Kansas Geological Survey, interim director Rex Buchanan will retire in June 2016.
Buchanan, who grew up in Little River, has spent his career with KGS writing, conducting research and working up the administrative ladder including posts such as associate director for public outreach.
Buchanan and Jim McCauley co-authored the book “Roadside Kansas,” a guide to geological landmarks across the state.
During the past few years, Buchanan has been dedicated to looking at saltwater injection from oil and gas production, and its linkages to manmade earthquakes.
He said that KGS has stepped up to the plate to address a rise in the number of earthquakes in south and central Kansas, and that the organization has worked to engage with partners in state government and the Kansas Corporation Commission.
Additionally KGS has enhanced the monitoring of seismic activity in Kansas and expanded its database.
“It’s been a tough issue, and it’s still playing itself out,” Buchanan said.
In January, he testified before the House Energy and Environment Committee on the correlation between seismic activity and saltwater injection.
Currently, a staged reduction to cut back the volume of saltwater disposal is in the works, in order to mitigate the earthquake problem. However, Buchanan said he also understands the need to produce energy in the state.
He believes that the progress Kansas has made on this issue can serve as a model for other states facing the same problem.
“Rex is a tremendous asset for the university, and it will not be easy to find his successor at the KGS,” said Jim Tracy, vice chancellor for research, in a news release from the University of Kansas. “Under his leadership much has been learned about the state’s aquifers, the relationship between saltwater disposal from oil production and earthquakes, and the underground sequestration of carbon dioxide.”
In his retirement, Buchanan plans to spend time working on two geology-related book projects and traveling. Africa, Iceland and New Zealand are among the places that he would like to visit.
KGS is searching for the next director who will likely start July 1, 2016.