Thirty-four earthquakes have occurred in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex city of Irving since October 2014. Over the past week, the Dallas suburb has been shaken by a number of earthquakes from a common source point lying roughly below the former site of Texas Stadium. Those 34 quakes have contributed to the over 130 occurrences since 2008. The number is staggering considering the seismic activity in the region was non-existent prior.
The number is considerable but perhaps even more alarming has been the recent magnitude. On January 6, two quakes at 3.5 and 3.6, recorded at a depth of 3 to 4 miles below the surface, were felt as far as the central business district in Dallas. With the ongoing seismic activity has come a series of debates focused around the recent spike in number with fingers pointing directly at the increased fracking activity in the region. Though occurrences have been numerous, reports of damage have been minor.
The speculation is just given the source’s proximity to the Balcones Fault, which runs from Larado on the Mexican border up along the path of Interstate 35. The fault defines the line between the cross timbers and farmland to the east and the Texas Hill Country and Great Plains to the west. Seismic activity on the fault has been minor for centuries.
In recent years, the disposal of wastewater nearly 10,000 feet below the Earth’s surface has been linked to a number of tremors throughout the region. Though any connection between seismic activity and hydraulic fracturing has been denied by the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil industry in Texas, a team of professors from SMU have begun an intensive study of the Texas Stadium site to identify the cause of the recent increase in earthquakes.
The recent earthquake activity will undoubtedly continue to raise additional questions that surround the true positives and negatives behind fracking practices, an argument thoughtfully outlined by Brantley Hightower in May of 2014.
For more specifics on the recent quakes the Dallas Morning News has compiled a series of hypothetical outcomes in a recent issue.