Texas official to discuss the rash of recent earthquakes

12/30/2013 9:15 AM

12/30/2013 9:52 AM

A pair of earthquakes rattled northeast Parker County last week, adding to the growing cluster of mild quakes that have become common in the area since early November.

So much shaking has been going on that a member of the Texas Railroad Commission has scheduled a public meeting for Thursday in Azle, “to discuss recent seismic occurrences in the North Texas area.”

The two recent quakes on Dec. 22 and 23, were about 28 hours apart, and both registered a magnitude of 3.3, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The one on Dec. 22 was felt at about 11:30 a.m. and was centered a mile south of Reno, in an area about 20 miles northwest of Fort Worth, the agency said.

The Dec. 23 earthquake happened at about 7:11 a.m. about a mile southwest of Reno, the agency said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, according to the Parker County Sheriff's Department.

No clear explanation for the quakes has been identified by the geological survey or officials in Texas, considering that the area has historically been free of earthquakes.

What is new, however, is the nearby operation of deep underground disposal wells, which have been receiving millions of gallons of wastewater from natural gas drilling in North Texas.

Some residents speculate that the injection of the water might have enough volume and force to spur seismic activity. Many of their comments are posted on a Facebook page titled “Azle Earthquakes Blog 2013.”

No seismologists have yet signed off on the injection well theory, but at least one state official is willing to hear what residents have to say about it.

Railroad Commissioner David Porter said he will hold a town-hall meeting on the topic from 5 -7 p.m. Thursday in the Azle High School Auditorium, 1200 Boyd Road in Azle.

The commission is in charge of regulating the wells.

According to a news release, Porter will “listen to residents’ concerns and outline what he plans to do as Texas Railroad Commissioner.”

Porter was unavailable to comment further.

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

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