Journalist Jim Malewitz with The Texas Tribune tapped the expertise of SMU geophysicist Brian Stump, whose research has looked at the operation of saltwater injection disposal wells and small earthquakes that have occurred in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Stump is Albritton Professor of Earth Sciences in SMU's Dedman College. His research includes seismic wave propagation, seismic source theory, shallow geophysical site characterization, and characterization of explosions as sources of seismic waves.
Seismologists from SMU will deploy a variety of seismic monitors in and around Azle, Texas, to study the recent burst of small earthquakes that have been occurring in the area northwest of Fort Worth. The first group of instruments, four digital monitors provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), will be deployed as early as this week to monitor the burst of seismicity that has been occurring in the area since early November. The USGS NetQuakes instruments are designed to be installed in private homes, businesses, public buildings and schools with an existing broadband connection to the internet, and data from those monitors will be available online.
Brian Stump, Albritton Professor of Earth Sciences in SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, has been elected chair of the board of directors for a university-based consortium that operates facilities for the acquisition, management and open distribution of seismic data.
(Photo: USGS scientist taking lava samples. Credit: USGS)
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 seismologist Brian W. Stump has travelled far and wide to better understand the sound waves and vibrations that occasionally burp and shudder through and around the Earth.
The past several years, Stump, the Claude C. Albritton Jr. Chair in SMU's Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in Dedman College, has expanded his research to China and South Korea.
His scientific view also has broadened to include the role played by the atmosphere as well as the Earth in wave propagation, an area of expertise. And serving on the board of directors of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, or IRIS, has transformed him into an advocate for the increasingly collaborative discipline.