QUEST TO UNDERSTAND NORTH TEXAS EARTHQUAKES
Scientific investigations of earthquake clusters are being conducted by SMU seismologists
As earthquakes continue to rattle North Texas, a team of SMU scientists is leading the way in investigating the source of the activity.
Seismologists from the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in SMU's Dedman College are studying earthquakes in North Texas to determine their causes, how large they might become, and where they are most likely to hit.
North Texas has experienced more than 160 earthquakes since 2008. Prior to that time, quakes were virtually unheard of in the area. Over the last seven years, spurred by a sense of commitment to the surrounding community as well as scientific opportunity, SMU scientists have studied five distinct sequences or “swarms” of earthquakes in the region. Those earthquakes have occurred near DFW Airport, in Cleburne, in the Reno-Azle area, in Dallas and Irving near the old Cowboys stadium site and, most recently, near Venus in Johnson County.
“The seismology team at SMU has developed the expertise to deploy instruments, analyze and share the data they gather,” said Brian Stump, the SMU Albritton Chair of Geological Sciences. “We are committed to cooperating, as resources allow, with both state and federal agencies in addressing these issues,” Stump said.
The team recently received $122,337 in funding from the U.S. Geological Survey to map faults in North Texas. The study will be lead by Heather DeShon and Beatrice Magnani, both SMU seismologists.
SMU scientists and others have linked these recent earthquakes to processes in oil and gas activity in the geologic formation known as the Fort Worth Basin. The common denominator in these earthquakes, scientists have found, often involved the rapid removal or injection of large volumes of waste water (byproducts of natural gas production).
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INSTALLATION OF A BROADBAND SEISMICITY MONITOR
The photos that follow track the manual setup of an earthquake monitor (silver cylinder), calibration of the monitor via a laptop, and confirmation that the monitor is producing signals that can be transmitted off-site. (Click image for hi-res version.)