UNDERSTANDING RECENT NORTH TEXAS SEISMICITY
A Scientific Investigation of the Reno-Azle and Mineral Wells Earthquake Sequences
by Seismologists from SMU’s Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in Dedman College
North Texas earthquakes occurring in the Reno-Azle area since Nov. 5, 2013,
and in Mineral Wells since Nov. 28, 2013, have raised scientific
questions about the nature of these sequences and heightened local and
national concerns about the impact of shale gas production on
infrastructure and subsurface structures.
Scientists hosted media on Feb. 7, 2014, to explain the study.
While all North Texas events
to date have been small (less than magnitude 4) seismologists are unable
to evaluate the potential maximum magnitude for such faults and define
the hazard. Recognizing an immediate need to record the data necessary
to understand these events, scientists at SMU have installed and are
operating a temporary seismic network in the Reno-Azle area to acquire
data that may be used to locate and characterize the current earthquake
The primary research goal will be to conduct the data analysis needed to
improve identification of earthquake location and characterize the size,
mechanisms and accelerations associated with the events. The improved
network geometry and closer stations will make it possible to more
accurately locate the events. This will allow SMU scientists to
estimate the size and nature of the fault(s), which may suggest the
maximum size of the earthquake(s). SMU also will be able to measure
peak-ground-accelerations, which are needed to better estimate hazard.
Finally, the spatial relation of the felt earthquakes to fluid injection
points related to shale gas development in Texas and other states
remains a major question. Understanding if and/or how injection of
fluids into the crystalline crust reactivates otherwise inactive faults
has important implications for seismology, the energy industry, and
society. The number and diversity of instruments SMU has deployed is
unique and provides an unprecedented opportunity to make progress on
Instrumentation has been provided in part by the U.S. Geological Survey
and the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS). All
waveform data collected by SMU is publically available, archived at the
IRIS Data Management Center. Financial support for the study has been
provided by SMU through the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in
Dedman College, the Institute for the Study of Earth and Man, and the
University Research Council.
Location Of Seismicity Monitors
Blue circles indicate general locations of seismic stations. Yellow circles indicate National Earthquake Information Center seismicity through January 16, 2014.