May 27, 2010
JONES, Oklahoma -- Oklahomans have proven they can handle most anything Mother Nature can dish out: tornadoes, wildfires, ice storms, flooding. Been there, done that. Residents of one town can now add earthquakes to the list.
The people of Jones and other rural communities in eastern Oklahoma County and western Lincoln County, in the central part of the state, have been experiencing what geologists refer to as an earthquake "swarm" over the past year.
Relative to the temblors that recently struck Haiti and Chile, these quakes have not been very strong -- ranging in magnitude from 1.5 to 3.8, and yet many have been big enough, not only to be felt, but to rattle houses and rattle nerves. . .
On Halloween night, 2008, residents around the Dallas-Fort Worth airport began experiencing a series of tremors -- the first felt earthquakes in that area since 1950. Geologists from Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas were intrigued and decided to take a closer look.
Dr. Brian Stump, a professor Earth Sciences at SMU, said the seismic equipment they put in place showed them something extraordinary about the epicenters of the earthquakes they recorded.
"They all locate in that little square," Stump said, pointing to a spot just south of the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.
And that square, he said, was right along a known fault line, and right next to a wastewater injection well.
Stump and other geologists said production wells have not been tied to earthquakes, but disposal wells, where the saltwater and other fluids used in oil and gas production are injected back into the earth have been shown, in some cases, to cause small quakes.
"Fluids of all kinds, when they're injected underground, do, in some cases, induce small earthquakes," Stump said.
Stump said they also learned that the injection well in question has started putting fluids into the ground just a few weeks before the DFW quakes began.
Read the full story or watch the interview.
# # #