Texas Railroad Commission, USGS Investigating Texas Earthquakes

The Texas Railroad Commission and the United States Geological Survey are investigating a series of small earthquakes in Parker County. Since the beginning of the month, there have been a total of 10 quakes.

The most recent three took place on Tuesday and left many wondering what could be behind the shaking.

Dr. Ken Morgan, PhD, is the head of TCU’s Energy Institute and said there are dozens of fault lines in North Texas. Morgan said oftentimes the small quakes are small releases of stresses and forces in the earth, but that there is a possibility the quakes are being caused by human activity.

“There are disposal wells in the area that could be pumping too much water out, or putting too many fluids in, industrial or municipal fluids. That’s what we’re looking at,” Morgan told NBC 5.

Morgan said, however, in his belief, fracking is not a possible cause of the Parker County earthquakes.

According to a release found on the Railroad Commission’s website dated June 25, 2013: 

“RRC staff welcomes more data and science about current theories that hypothesize a causation link between minor seismic events and injection wells. RRC staff is closely following various studies that are being conducted to determine possible man-made causes of recent seismic events. Commission staff has participated in industry workshops concerning this phenomenon and cooperates with the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency whenever appropriate.

Seismic waves are continuously traversing the earth's crust due to both natural causes and human activity. Texas has a long history of safe injection, and staff has not identified a significant correlation between faulting and injection practices.

Commission regulations require injection be confined to a permitted interval, and if faults, stratigraphy, or any other geologic phenomena are identified as a concern, they are evaluated. In addition, commission staff could suspend or terminate a permit if science and data indicated a problem.

As epicenters are reported, RRC staff evaluates the area to see if there are any Underground Injection Control (UIC) wells nearby. For some reported epicenters, there have been no UIC wells nearby. If there is a UIC well nearby, RRC staff conduct physical inspections of the area as well as a review of UIC well permit restrictions to ensure compliance with Commission Statewide Rules.

Here are the USGS and NBC 5 reports of all North Texas earthquakes recorded in November:

  1. Nov. 26 - 8:24 a.m.: Magnitude 3.0 east of Azle | Story
  2. Nov. 25 - 1:43 a.m.: Magnitude 3.3Story
  3. Nov. 23 - 3:43 a.m.: Magnitude 2.9 southwest of Reno | Story
  4. Nov. 20 - 11:53 p.m.: Magnitude 2.2
  5. Nov. 19 - 6:40 p.m.: Magnitude 3.6 north-northwest of Azle | Story
  6. Nov. 19 - 12:03 p.m.: Magnitude 2.8 west of Azle
  7. Nov. 19 - 11:57 a.m.: Magnitude 2.5 southwest of Reno
  8. Nov. 13 - 3:01 a.m.: Magnitude 2.6
  9. Nov. 11 - 2:30 a.m.: Magnitude 2.8 north of Azle | Story
  10. Nov. 9 - 1:54 p.m.: Magnitude 3.0 south of SpringtownStory
  11. Nov. 8 - 9:34 p.m. : Magnitude 2.4
  12. Nov. 7 - 10:32 p.m.: Magnitude 2.9 near Springtown
  13. Nov. 5 - 9:32 p.m.: Magnitude 2.6 east-southeast of RenoStory
  14. Nov. 2 - 12:45 a.m.: Magnitude 2.0
  15. Nov. 1 - 4:57 p.m.: Magnitude 2.1 east-northeast of Richland Hills | Story

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