Magnitude-4.0 quake between Mansfield, Venus is biggest yet

A seismograph records earthquake activity
A seismograph records earthquake activity Getty Images/iStockphoto

A magnitude-4.0 earthquake shook Johnson and southern Tarrant counties Thursday evening, the biggest quake ever recorded in North Texas, the federal earthquake monitoring agency reported.

There were no reports of serious damage or injury by 9 p.m.

The earthquake’s epicenter was 3 miles north-northwest of Venus and 6 miles south of Mansfield, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The time was 5:58 p.m.

More than 50 earthquakes have rattled North Texas region since November 2013, most of them in western parts of Dallas but also in the Azle area. In 2009, Johnson County had five small quakes, and in 2012 there were 10 within 30 days in June and July.

On Thursday, people in Arlington, Alvarado, Burleson, Cleburne, Mansfield and Dallas reported feeling the ground move.

In Johnson County, the first report of damage — cracked blocks under an Alvarado mobile home — was received at 6:30 p.m., said Johnson County emergency management coordinator Jamie Moore.

Later, the resident of a mobile home near Alvarado reported minor foundation damage, he said.

As a precaution, Moore said, the Texas Railroad Commission started sending inspectors to check all the oil and gas infrastructure within a 10-mile radius of the earthquake’s epicenter for cracks or leaks.

Moore said people may report damage through his office’s mobile non-emergency app — Emergency Ops Center, Johnson County, Texas.

Mansfield Fire Chief Barry Bondurant said he learned about the quake only when it lit up social media. He said the fire department had received no reports of damage or injuries.

“I didn’t feel it, and I was standing right here at Fire Station No. 1,” the southernmost of the city’s fire houses, Bondurant said.

Charlotte Crosby was sitting on her couch in Mansfield when she felt her house shake once.

“I never felt anything like that before,” she said. “I had never felt the house move, and it moved. I thought it was going to come again, but it was just one good shake.”

On the Star-Telegram’s Facebook page, college students at UT Arlington and Texas Wesleyan University reported feeling it.

One reader said, “I thought I was imagining things.”

That sentiment was shared by Mansfield resident Jadzia Ajemian’s family.

“I was sitting in my living room at my computer desk and felt movement in the ground,” said Ajemian, who lives in central Mansfield. “I thought it was a big truck that went past and shook the house.

“I asked my family if they felt an earthquake. My husband said that’s crazy, but my daughter said everybody is on Twitter talking about it.

“My husband is from Missouri, the Show Me State, so I looked it up and it was a 4.0 earthquake. So in your face, Greg Ajemian!”

Marilyn Gerloff, who lives east of Lillian in Johnson County, said she felt the rumbling under her feet.

“We’ve had several mini ones” in the past, Gerloff said. “The little ones feel like somebody ran a pickup into the side of the house. This one sounded like a sonic boom.”

None of the Mansfield residents reported damage, just a quick jolt.

“I’ve looked around downstairs and everything is OK,” Gerloff said. “I’m kind of afraid to go upstairs.”

On Monday, SMU researchers testified before a state House committee that their seismic research has linked 27 earthquakes that occurred northwest of Fort Worth from November 2013 to January 2014 to drilling for oil and natural gas. The scientists are continuing to study more recent quakes in the Irving area.

The largest quake ever recorded in Texas was near Valentine in West Texas in 1931, which was a 5.8-magnitude, according to the USGS.

A review of Texas’ earthquake history can be found on the USGS’s website.

Staff writers Amanda Rogers and Robert Cadwallader contributed to this report, which contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.

Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792


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