Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Amid a New Swarm of Quakes, Researchers Head to Irving

This map from the USGS shows the approximate location of a recent quake near Irving, Texas.

Courtesy of USGS

This map from the USGS shows the approximate location of a recent quake near Irving, Texas.

Updated 1/6/14 with more comment from Railroad Commission and information on Tuesday January 6th earthquake.

A team of seismologists headed to the North Texas town of Irving Monday.  Like some other Texas towns, Irving has experienced scores of small earthquakes lately, 20 since last September, including a magnitude 3.5 quake that struck on January 6th. And the city is hoping to figure out what’s behind the shaking.

The upsurge in quakes started in Texas around the time the oil and gas boom took hold several years ago.  Residents in many parts of the state blame the them on wastewater disposal wells, where fluid byproducts of oil and gas drilling are pumped deep into the ground.  Scientists have shown how injecting fluid into the ground can cause earthquakes.

After a spate of quakes in the North Texas town of Azle, the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator, hired a seismologist, Dr. David Craig Pearson, and passed new regulations for disposal wells. The Commission says it is not investigating the Irving quakes.

“The Railroad Commission is not investigating seismic activity around Irving,” Ramona Nye, a spokesperson for the Commission wrote in an email to StateImpact Texas. “Specifically, there are no disposal wells in Dallas County, and there is only one natural gas well in the vicinity, and it is an inactive well.”

“The Railroad Commission is aware of these recent earthquakes in the Irving area, and Dr. Pearson has put SMU researchers in contact with City of Carrollton personnel so that SMU researchers can install a seismometer in the area to further pinpoint the locations of these seismic events,”  Nye wrote.

Scott Hudson, the Environmental Services Director of Carrollton, said to his knowledge no one from that city had been in touch with the Railroad Commission. But Chris Hillman, the City Manager of Irving  said his city had “reached out” to the Commission and that SMU researchers will travel to Irving today to install the monitor.

“As we learn and understand more about these issues, we’ll continue to pass along more information to our residents,” says Hillman.

Ms. Nye said the Commission’s Seismologist Dr. Pearson was not available for an interview.

In a statement emailed to StateImpact Texas, Prof. Brian Stump SMU’s Chair of Geological Sciences, says installing the monitor will help researchers understand what’s happening under Irving.

“Pinpointing the exact location of the earthquakes is dependent on local seismometers and thus the first step in understanding the nature of the seismic activity,”  wrote Stump. “The team will continue to interact with local officials about the seismic events.”


  • Jack Wolf

    Of course it’s related to fracking operations. The telltale sign is in the earthquake’s shallow depths.

    • Penelope210

      how? There are no fracked wells in all of Dallas County and no disposal wells either. Try again moron.

      • Jack Wolf

        Irving is over the Barnett formation which is being heavily fracked. Hey, I hear Dallas had one too last night. LOL. Keep on fracking.

      • There are 2 fracked wells in the vicinity of this Quakeswarm. The Railroad Commission keeps reminding us that they are “Inactive.” But one of them was in production as late as 2012 according to the Railroad Commission production data. And at any rate, Fracking is “injection.” There’s a very well-known fault called the Balcones that runs right through that area. Injecting water under high pressure deep into a fault sounds like a perfect recipe for earthquakes now or later or forever. The USGS also tells us that extraction (production) can cause seismicity as well. It’s on their web site.

        • Jack Wolf

          Also, induced seismicity was noted on their alerts for these quakes. It states:

          Induced Seismicity

          As is the case elsewhere in the world, there is evidence that some central and eastern North America earthquakes have been triggered or caused by human activities that have altered the stress conditions in earth’s crust sufficiently to induce faulting. Activities that have induced felt earthquakes in some geologic environments have included impoundment of water behind dams, injection of fluid into the earth’s crust, extraction of fluid or gas, and removal of rock in mining or quarrying operations. In much of eastern and central North America, the number of earthquakes suspected of having been induced is much smaller than the number of natural earthquakes, but in some regions, such as the south-central states of the U.S., a significant majority of recent earthquakes are thought by many seismologists to have been human-induced. Even within areas with many human-induced earthquakes, however, the activity that seems to induce seismicity at one location may be taking place at many other locations without inducing felt earthquakes. In addition, regions with frequent induced earthquakes may also be subject to damaging earthquakes that would have occurred independently of human activity. Making a strong scientific case for a causative link between a particular human activity and a particular sequence of earthquakes typically involves special studies devoted specifically to the question. Such investigations usually address the process by which the suspected triggering activity might have significantly altered stresses in the bedrock at the earthquake source, and they commonly address the ways in which the characteristics of the suspected human-triggered earthquakes differ from the characteristics of natural earthquakes in the region.

          • Jack Wolf

            And, it the USGS doesn’t believed it may be due to induced seismicity, the language above is not included in the alert.

      • mike tyson

        You have to be mentally retarded to not believe what is causing it. And you must work for the scum. Dude if i was as stupid as you i will kill my self. Your mother must have been a real whore.

  • Kim Triolo Feil

    And then they had a 3.6 in Irving just before 7pm on 1/6/15! I was in Arlington upstairs at the small claims court suing Chesapeake when the 3.5 happened…for nuisance odors, but at least now I know how to file the paperwork for future damages if the quakes get bigger. $50 to serve papers in Oklahoma and $41 for the small claims suit…A judge or jury can award up to $10K but some homes might go over that amount if you sue for damages (and can prove it)…..so the McDonald Law Firm in Ft Worth needs to gear up for a second round of citizen suits – finish up all those royalty shorting suits and gear up to take cases over seismic events. Events that could lead to broken gaswell casings, pipelines, water mains, Atmos lines etc…if casings fail too soon (not if but when)…we’ll have to sue for eventual ground water contamination…its only the tip of the frackquake we may be seeing here, but then again I’m an optimistic person…hah

    • Jack Wolf

      Just wait for climate change damage to really start piling up.

    • mike tyson

      The companys that are doing this could care less about anyone other then themselves. The old mighty dollar come before people. I prey every night that they die and there family’s die with them. Let the devil take the scum.

  • John C

    40 minutes ago another one, this time a 2.9 in the same area. I wouldn’t say that these are shallow though, they are 3.1 miles deep, whereas the fracking wastewater which has been proven to create earthquakes, is typically 1-1.5 miles deep.

  • Penelope210

    Can you folks not read? There are no disposal wells in Dallas county and no fracked wells. Period. Just stop with the fear based politics.

    • liz biki

      honey, they don’t have to be in Dallas proper to affect Irving, etc. I live FAR from frack areas and still feel the occasional rumble since this BS started

      • mike tyson

        The hired workers are working the boards to help continue the lie.

    • Dean Salem

      Penelope – do you work for oil and gas companies, or have you somehow missed the news around the US regarding fracking and earthquakes? Geologists and Seismologists have concluded in several states that disposal wells from fracking are causing earthquakes. No fear, just facts.

    • And you would be wrong. There are two wells that were fracked in the “vicinity” of these quakes. There is a very well-known fault. Maybe you’ve heard of it ~ the Balcones? Seems that drilling and fracking so close and even “into” a known fault is about as stupid as this industry can be. Hashtag #Stupid.

    • mike tyson

      The wells don’t need to be close to the area. Penelope i have noticed you are all over the boards defending the scumbag frackers. You are a hired hand . And now i am finding out where you live and where your family is.

  • Jack Wolf

    Meanwhile, A series of 77 earthquakes in Ohio, including one strong enough to be felt by humans was caused by the controversial fracking process, scientists indicated. The research was published Tuesday in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA): http://www.seismosoc.org/society/press_releases/BSSA_105-1_Skoumal_et_al_Press_Release.pdf

  • mike tyson

    I can’t wait til Dallas is leveled. And then we will see if the frackers are charged with murder. They did this. 100% positive . Same thing going on in Ohio. Almost exact. All the dumb ases in here will lie through there teeth to keep on poisoning and killing .

  • mike tyson

    So were going to let a small group of scumg frackers destroy America so they can get rich. I say screw them. It is time to start sht with them. . I am working on a list of executives and i have a lot of address and phone numbers. It’s time to start protesting in front of there houses.

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