Now that SMU’s seismology team has located the fissure, they can begin to study how and why it’s moving.
Science journalist Anna Kuchment covered a recent interim report on the research findings of Southern Methodist University’s seismology team surrounding a recent series of earthquakes in the Irving, Texas area.
Kuchment’s Dallas Morning News article, “Remap of Dallas-area quakes shows fault closer to fracking wells than thought,” covered a briefing with the press on Friday, Feb. 6, to explain progress on the team’s earthquake research.
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- Heather DeShon
- Brian Stump
- “Understanding recent North Texas seismicity”
- Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences at SMU
- SMU’s Dedman College
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Initial results reveal that the earthquakes that occurred near the site of the old Texas Stadium were relatively shallow and concentrated along a narrow two mile line that indicates a fault extending from Irving into West Dallas.
SMU and the United States Geological Survey shared the report with the mayors of Dallas and Irving spelling out preliminary information gleaned after SMU’s installation in January of more than 20 portable earthquake monitors around the earthquake sites. SMU seismologists Heather DeShon and Brian Stump, in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, answered questions during the briefing with reporters.
By Anna Kuchment and Avi Selk
Dallas Morning News
Scientists finally have a rough picture of the ancient fault that’s been rattling the Dallas area, and the fissure isn’t where the public thought it was.
Armed with more equipment and better data, SMU scientists have relocated dozens of quakes on the federal government’s imprecise maps. The team released a new map on Friday that shifts the epicenters of nearly all of last month’s temblors, arranging them in a neat line that shadows a fissure miles beneath the earth.
And while the team has just begun to study that fault, they already have some early hints about its nature.
It’s not beneath the old Texas Stadium site, as federal maps suggested.
It’s small (for a fault) and appears to be quieting down after tossing off about four dozen quakes in a year. But it could still produce a tremor much more powerful than any Dallas has yet seen.
And while scientists are skeptical that gas drilling woke it up, they now know the fault runs much closer than previously thought to the only two fracking wells in the area.
If you’ve felt any of the earthquakes to hit the Dallas area since last fall, you may have looked up a map of their epicenters. The rough bull’s eye of quakes around the old Texas Stadium site has sparked wild theories about the stadium’s demolition and jokes about the “Jerry Jones Fault.”
That map is wrong, and scientists have always known it.
The federal government estimated the North Texas epicenters using a small handful of quake detectors, some of which sat miles away and produced inaccurate readings.
The U.S. Geological Survey’s blob of approximate quake locations was of little use to scientists trying to map the underground crack producing them. So in early January, the SMU team began to install nearly two dozen detectors in the Irving area to collect more accurate data.
The earth obliged with more than two dozen quakes since then, including the most powerful yet in Dallas County.
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By Margaret Allen
Senior research writer, SMU Public AffairsView Archive →