Are earthquakes gone from our area for good?

SMU Geophysics Professor Heather DeShon, a leading researcher into the causes of earthquakes in North Texas, talks about the drop off in the number of quakes last year.

By Anna Kuchment
Staff writer 

North Texas is at the heart of a new scientific puzzle: Where did all the earthquakes go?

Quakes that started rattling the area around Dallas in 2008 came to a virtual halt last year, according to a new report by federal scientists.  That means the area's risk of experiencing a damaging quake dropped sharply — to less than 1 percent — for 2017, according to a one-year national earthquake forecast released by the U.S. Geological Survey Wednesday morning. . . . 

The agency's scientists have linked the quakes here to oil and gas operations. They said the absence of major quakes in the area last year may be linked to a drop in energy activity in North Texas because of low oil and gas prices.

But other scientific experts warn against making too much of the short-term drop.

”Earthquake rates in North Texas have always been variable year to year,” said Heather DeShon,  a seismologist at Southern Methodist University and a leading researcher on local quakes. “In fact 2016 doesn’t look any different than 2010 or 2011” — two other years when earthquakes went on a  hiatus.

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