AP-NBC 5 DFW: Reasearch Conducted to Determine the Cause for Texas Earthquakes

The Associated Press covered the research of SMU seismologist Heather R. DeShon.

DeShon is leading the effort to trace the source of a recent sequence of small earthquakes in North Texas and any relationship they may have to the injection of waste water by energy companies using shale gas production to recover gas.

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.

The NBC DFW broadcast aired Feb. 8, “Reasearch Conducted to Determine the Cause for Texas Earthquakes.”

DeShon, an associate professor of geophysics, is an expert in earthquake generation within subduction zones and intraplate settings, seismogenic zone processes, local earthquake tomography and volcano seismology.

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EXCERPT:

By Associated Press
NBC DFW

Researchers collecting seismic data hope it allows them to determine what role waste water injection wells have played in a string of small earthquakes northwest of Fort Worth.

The area in northeast Parker County, about 15 miles northwest of Fort Worth, has experienced more than 30 small earthquakes since November. Last month more than 30 area residents traveled to Austin to ask the Texas Railroad Commission to consider shutting down injection wells there, but the commission said it didn’t have enough information.

“We want to get to a point where we can say, `This particular well affected this seemingly dead fault,”‘ Heather DeShon, an associate professor of geophysics at Southern Methodist University told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “But first we have to gather the data.”

DeShon said the school’s network of seismic activity sensors in an area about 15 miles northwest of Fort Worth have detected numerous small earthquakes recently. Still, it could take a year or more before researchers could tie the earthquakes around the town of Azle to injection wells in the area.

Oil wells often produce tons of salt water, which is pumped back into the ground through the so-called injection wells, to extract more oil. According to the Texas Railroad Commission, there are about 35,000 active injection wells in the state. About 7,000 of those are used for disposal. Experts have said it’s rare for the wells to produce seismic events, but it does happen.

There are five disposal wells around Azle.

Small earthquakes that occurred at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport from October 2008 to May 2009 stopped after one company shut down one of the two injection wells it operated on the airport property.

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