Beginning the first part of November 2013, the Azle area (Tarrant/Parker counties) experienced over 20 earthquakes. Although they were minor in size, their presence was felt.
This series of quakes seemed to come out of nowhere; and since the Azle area did not have a history of earthquakes, it was understandable the residents living in the “quake zone” were concerned.
So what is being done?
City Staff contacted geologists and state and federal officials to see if a determination could be made as to why this sudden appearance of earthquakes in the Azle area. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) officials worked with researchers at Southern Methodist University to position digital seismographs in the Azle area to help pinpoint more accurate locations for the epicenters of the quakes since the closest monitoring instrument was about 60 miles away. One way you can help the researchers gather data is by reporting what you experience when a quake occurs. The USGS has a reporting option called Did You Feel It?
Studies of this kind take time and there will be no quick answers. We will provide updates on this web page as new information is made available.
04-21-2015 SMU-led seismology team reveals Azle findings
An SMU-led seismology team finds that high volumes of wastewater injection combined with saltwater (brine) extraction from natural gas wells is the most likely cause of earthquakes occurring near Azle, Texas, from late 2013 through spring 2014.
10-28-2014 Railroad Commission Adopts Disposal Well Rule Amendments Today
The three Texas Railroad Commissioners today unanimously adopted disposal well rule amendments that are designed to address disposal well operations in areas of historical or future seismic activity. Disposal wells are permitted by the Railroad Commission to safely dispose of non-hazardous produced water (saltwater) and hydraulic fracture flowback fluid from oil and gas wells. The adopted rule amendments become effective November 17, 2014.
05-12-2014 House Subcommittee on Seismic Activity Hearing
The chairman of the Texas House Committee on Energy Resources created the Subcommittee on Seismic Activity to investigate the recent increased seismic activity that has occurred in areas adjacent to oil and gas production and disposal wells. The Subcommittee is chaired by the Vice Chair of Energy Resources Myra Crownover (R-Denton) and includes Representatives Phil King (R-Weatherford ), Terry Canales (D-Edinburg), and Chris Paddie (R-Marshall). This committee has been charged with studying the current conditions surrounding the increased seismic activity in the Barnett Shale and other areas of the State. Specifically, review the possibility that increased exploration and disposal well activity could impact seismic activity. The committee shall review active oil and gas activity and injection wells in areas experiencing increased seismic activity
The Subcommittee held a hearing in Austin on May 12 to hear testimony from experts in geology, seismology, and oil and gas production. Azle Mayor Alan Brundrett and Reno Mayor Linda Stokes were invited to speak on behalf of their communities about their experiences regarding earthquakes in our area.
The following link will allow you to view the Hearing in its entirety.
3-28-2014 Railroad Commission Hires Seismologist
Railroad Commission Executive Director Milton Rister announced the Commission has hired a seismologist, Dr. David Craig Pearson, a former team leader for a Los Alamos National Laboratory seismic, experimental field team, who also holds a doctorate in geophysics from Southern Methodist University.
Commissioner David Porter said, “After an extensive, nationwide search, I’m happy to announce that the Railroad Commission has added a highly qualified seismologist to our staff. This will allow our agency to further examine any possible correlation between seismic events and oil and gas activity and gain a more thorough understanding of the science and data available. Having a seismologist on staff will also enable the Commission to better coordinate with the academic community on future research.”
2-10-2014 SMU establishes web page regarding their North Texas earthquake study
SMU seismologists have established a web page to provide information regarding their ongoing study of the earthquake sequences in the Azle-Reno area, the installation of seismic equipment and answers to some frequently asked questions.
1-7-2014 Railroad Commission To Hire Seismologist
On January 7, 2014, Texas Railroad Commission sent out a press release announcing the Commission’s decision to hire a seismologist. Commissioner David Porter said after meeting with Azle residents last week in a town hall meeting, “It is imperative that the Commission remain engaged and involved in gathering more evidence and data into any possible causation between oil and gas activities and seismic events. Commission rules and regulations must be based on sound science and proven facts. In order to do so, I propose the Commission hire an in-house seismologist.”
Preliminary Report 12-23-13
In an effort to keep you informed as to the progress of the study, here is the USGS preliminary report (PDF) on recent earthquake activity near Azle. If you have any questions regarding the report, please contact USGS.