Texas Patriot

Collection of news stories, comments/observations on events directly affecting American politics & society.

Earthquakes In Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex

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We had an earthquake today in Cow Town (Fort Worth). It was centered around Euless but felt as far West as Fort Worth. And there was an aftershock as well. Witnesses said it scared the heck out of them.

It was mild, a 3.3 on the Richter scale. But when you’re talking about a loud sonic BOOM! followed by the furniture shaking about—it follows that should unnerve a person pretty quick.

We also had one recently this past October. The Metroplex is not an earthquake area.

The largest earthquake in Texas’ history was near Valentine in 1931 (Valentine is SE of El Paso). That one destroyed most of the brick buildings but left the wood frame houses intact.

When I went looking for info on Texas earthquakes  I found conflicting info on the Valentine quake. One report states that quake had a richter reading of 5.80, another said it was a 6.0. And that there was another strong one registering 5.8 which occurred much later in 1995 (also occurring in West Texas) and was felt all the way in Austin. (This from the Institute for Geophysics at UT at Austin.

Looking over the excellent records kept by the Institute For Geophysics, I was very surprised to find that Texas has experienced MANY earthquakes over the years, though mild, causing little damage and not taking any lives (except for the bizarre incident where a Mexican man who’s adobe hut collapsed in on him across the Border).

Here’s the number of recorded earthquakes that UT at Austin gives by area of the state that registered at a 3.0 or greater:

West Texas—53

Panhandle—30

North East Texas—28

South Central Texas—20

Note that there have not been any (stress NOT any) recorded quakes in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area until this past October 30th 2008. It was registered at 3.0 on the Richter. Today’s (May 16th 2009) clocked in at 3.3 and was in the same area as the one from this past October: Euless, Bedford, Irving, Fort worth, and Dallas.

When I told my mother about our latest earthquake, she asked me if all the drilling they’re doing around here for oil and gas could’ve caused it. THAT is a very good question. And it’s been asked before according to the UT at Austin FAQ article.

Q: Does drilling for oil and gas cause or trigger earthquakes?

A: Research carried out by UTIG scientists suggests that earthquakes in some parts of Texas may be induced by the pumping of fluids at oil and gas fields, or by the injection of fluids to dispose of chemical wastes. The earthquakes in the Fashing-Pleasanton area southeast of San Antonio are almost certainly caused by or triggered by pumping; such earthquakes also seem to occur in the Texas Panhandle near Snyder, Texas.

We know that over pumping of water from an underground well can cause the ground to collapse inward in an area because the filler is gone.

There is a lot of drilling activity going on around Fort Worth since the Barnett Shale was discovered and rights granted to oil companies to offer land holders proceeds from the production, if they’d allow drilling. But there’s a whole lot more to come. They’ve just been getting geared over the past couple years.

The landman (landsman) I spoke to said the shelf sits on a humongous area stretching roughly 5,000 sq mi (or more) and covering at least 17 counties. He added that the sweet spot is downtown Fort Worth.

One article suggests that it may be the largest onshore natural gas reserve in the entire USA.

So, if the Barnett Shale does turn out to be the biggest deposit yet found in these United States, what will be the outcome of extensive drilling? Could drilling be the reason that an area that has never had an earthquake in recorded history, suddenly has two (3.0, 3.3) within 7 months of each other?

We’ll find out as time goes by, and it all plays out.

Resources

Earthquake Seismology; Institute For Geophysics, University Of Texas At Austin: http://www.ig.utexas.edu/research/projects/eq/compendium/earthquakes_contents.htm

Earthquake FAQ, Texas Earthquakes; Institute For Geophysics, University Of Texas At Austin: http://www.ig.utexas.edu/research/projects/eq/faq/tx.htm

Historic Earthquakes; Earthquakes Hazards Program, USGS (United States Geological Survey: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/states/?region=Texas

Texan Earthquake Information; Earthquake Hazards Program, USGS: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/states/events/1931_08_16.php

Minor Earthquake Rattles North Texas; DFW News: http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Minor-Earthquake-Rattles-North-Texas.html

Barnett Shale; Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnett_Shale

Texas Earthquake Information; USGS: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/states/?region=Texas

Several Small Earthquakes Rattle Texas, Oklahoma; FOX News:  (October 31, 2008: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,445568,00.html

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