Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Third Quake in a Week Hits East Texas Town

Earthquake Map Timpson 3

Image from the USGS.

The earthquake that was recorded in Timpson, Texas this Friday was the third to hit the area in a week.

This is an update to a story that ran on Tuesday.

A third earthquake shook Timpson,Texas early this morning. It measured a 2.4 on the Richter Scale and comes on the heels of two stronger quakes that hit on Labor Day. At least one of those  prompted reports of damage.

If you visit this site often, chances are you’ve read about Timpson. It’s an East Texas community home to just over 1,100 people that seems to get more than its fair share of earthquakes.

Last year a magnitude 4.8 struck the area. In January of this year two more quakes hit, one of them causing damage. In February, a third quake hit measuring 4.1. This Monday the two quakes that shook the town measured 4.1, and  4.3 on the Richter Scale.

Up until the recent spate of quakes, Timpson had never felt an earthquake before, at least not since the USGS started keeping records. That might be related to something else that Timpson has in abundance: injection wells for storing waste water produced by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

By our last count, Shelby County where Timpson is located, is home to 27 active injection wells.

Science has proven the link between injection wells and seismic activity (which is the same thing as earthquakes). And researchers are studying that link in Timpson.

According to UT’s Dr. Cliff Frolich, who is leading that research, the work is being complicated by the frequency of earthquakes.

“If they quit having earthquakes it’d be faster,” he told StateImpact Texas last February.

And after the recent quakes, local news station KSLA reported that the two quakes that hit Monday are located very close to a disposal well.

Despite evidence that the wells, and in some cases fracking itself, cause earthquakes, policymakers in Texas have been slow to respond.

But if quakes like the one in Timpson continue, inaction may be difficult to explain. While most quakes with possible links to injection wells cause no damage, the tremors in Timpson have. They’ve reportedly toppled chimneys, broken windows and, in the case of this Monday, even shaken the insulation from the ceiling of a convenience store in nearby Nacogdoces.



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