Earth magazine’s Carolyn Gramling interviewed SMU geophysicist Brian Stump about the operation of a saltwater injection disposal well that was a “plausible cause” for a series of small earthquakes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2008.
The May 13 article in Earth, the magazine of The American Geological Institute, explores the research into the earthquakes, which occurred in an area of North Texas where the vast Barnett Shale geological formation traps natural gas deposits in subsurface rock.
A study of seismic activity near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport by researchers from SMU and UT-Austin reveals that the operation of a saltwater injection disposal well in the area was a “plausible cause” for the series of small earthquakes that occurred in the area between October 30, 2008, and May 16, 2009.
The incidents under study occurred in an area of North Texas where the vast Barnett Shale geological formation traps natural gas deposits in subsurface rock.
Production in the Barnett Shale relies on the injection of pressurized water into the ground to crack open the gas-bearing rock, a process known as “hydraulic fracturing.” Some of the injected water is recovered with the produced gas in the form of waste fluids that require disposal.
Rare earthquake activity in the Dallas-Fort Worth area has prompted the National Science Foundation to loan SMU 10 seismic stations to study the phenomenon. News reports about the research have been filed by The Wall Street Journal, WFAA-TV Channel 8, the Dallas Morning News and others.
SMU researchers will deploy seismic stations in North Texas in an effort to gather information about the recent spate of earthquakes in the area, according to a June 9 report by WFAA-TV Channel 8 news reporter Jason Whitely. Read the full story.