A 3.0 magnitude earthquake struck Fort Worth near the DFW airport tonight, according to the US Geological Survey. At 10:16 pm, the quake hit five miles Northwest of Irving, just off the President George Bush Turnpike. Its epicenter was ten miles below the surface.
On Twitter, people are reporting feeling the ground shake. “Loud and everything moved – we knew instantly! Scary!” tweeted @NatalieTX2012. The quake hasn’t resulted in any reported damage. Generally, an earthquake doesn’t do much harm until it’s 4.0 magnitude or higher.
The area where the quake occured was seismically quiet until a few years ago. That’s when the oil and gas industry began using deep underground wells to dispose of fluids from the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,”
There is conclusive scientific evidence that the injection of those fluids is causing quakes in the U.S., in particular in this area of Texas. A University of Texas at Austin from study last summer found a definitive link between earthquakes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and disposal wells, in the drilling area known as the Barnett Shale.
And an earlier study by scientists at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and UT found links between disposal wells near the DFW airport and induced earthquakes for a series of quakes in 2008 and 2009. The study specifically looked at two injection wells in the area that were built in 2008. Seven weeks later, earthquakes started. “Were the DFW earthquakes natural or triggered by activities associated with natural gas production, most likely saltwater injection to dispose of brines?” the report asked. The study said yes, the “correlations are consistent with an induced or triggered source.”
The quakes studied from that two year period were all 3.0 magnitude or below, but in the years since there have been several quakes above 3.0 in the area, going as high as 3.5. There have been more than fifty earthquakes in the area since 2008.
You can read more about the connection between earthquakes and fracking disposal wells here.