Fort Worth

December 8, 2013

Mineral Wells quake follows another temblor near Azle

A 3.7-magnitude quake was registered early Monday, slightly stronger than one that hit Sunday in Parker County.

An earthquake of 3.7 magnitude shook the earth near Mineral Wells early Monday, the latest of more than 20 quakes in North Texas in recent weeks.

The quake struck 10 miles north-northeast of Mineral Wells and 20 miles northwest of Weatherford at 3:23 a.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake hit just a little more than 24 hours after a 3.6-magnitude temblor shook Parker County, about two miles northwest of Azle.

The Parker County Sheriff’s Department said there were no reports of injuries or damage from Sunday’s quake, which struck about 12:10 a.m. in an unincorporated area.

Each quake is unique, said Survey geophysicist Paul Caruso in Golden, Colo. Generally it takes a Magnitude 5 tremor to cause damage.

But Sunday’s was strong enough to briefly unnerve Noel “Jim” Nutt, a retired Greyhound and school bus driver who lives near the epicenter.

“It scared me just a little bit until I realized what it was,” Nutt said.

“My wife was asleep and it woke her up,” said Nutt, who lives in the Tanglewood development between Azle and Springtown. “Ten minutes after 12 it rocked my house, shook the windows and rattled the dishes in the cupboard.

“I thought the house was going to fall down. After it stopped shaking I heard a big boom — like a sonic boom, but you usually get two sonic booms and this was only one.

“I don’t know what caused it,” the Maine transplant went on. “People say it might be from the [oil and gas] drilling or the salt water pumped into the ground. The Bible said we’d have earthquakes. Maybe that’s what it is. But they’re the first I’ve felt in 57 years here.”

Caruso said the latest earthquake matches the strongest previous quake in the Azle vicinity, which was recorded Nov. 19.

Survey geophysicists say there is growing evidence linking mild earthquakes in areas previously without much seismic activity not to drilling activities but to injection wells used to dispose of waste water and chemicals used in hydraulic fracking. Not all injection wells cause tremors, they said.

The energy industry and its state regulator, the Texas Railroad Commission, have not rejected connections between seismic events and injection well use but calls scientific consensus on the issue still theoretical and says more research is needed.

Nonetheless, the sudden spurt of earthquakes prompted the Tarrant Regional Water District in late November to conduct daily inspections of North Texas dams, including the Eagle Mountain Reservoir.

And the Azle school district has been conducting earthquake drills at its schools.

This report contains information from Star-Telegram archives.

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