Stacia Loomis thought a car had crashed into her mobile home between Mansfield and Venus on Thursday afternoon. Her second thought sent her running to the kitchen, where she remembered her 10-year-old son Joshua was alone.
“He was terrified,” said Loomis, 29. “The refrigerator and other appliances were shaking. It sounded like three really loud booms.”
She knew it was an earthquake. Definitely not her first, she said, “but it was the strongest one we ever felt.”
The earthquake registered 4.0 on the Richter scale, the most powerful of more than 50 quakes that have rumbled through North Texas over the past 18 months.
The Thursday quake occurred at 5:58 p.m. and was centered 6 miles south of Mansfield and about 3 miles north-northwest of Venus, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
It was 16 times as strong as the 3.4-magnitude quake in November that shook the vicinity of Venus, a town of 3,140 residents traversed by U.S. 67 near the eastern border of Johnson County. Loomis said she has felt about 10 quakes there in the past several years.
“There have been some that we thought someone actually hit the house, and we actually went outside to check,” she said. “But we’ve never had one like this.”
Only two instances of damage from Thursday’s quake -- both minor and involving the foundations of Alvarado-area mobile homes -- were reported to Johnson County emergency officials. But the rumblings were reported by residents throughout the area, including Mansfield, Alvarado, Burleson, Cleburne, Arlington, Grand Prairie and even Dallas.
“I thought it was thunder,” said Mansfield resident Jeff Hager. “I didn’t really pay attention to it. It didn’t last very long. My son Ryan came out and said, ‘Did you feel that? My bed shook!’”
Jadzia Ajemian’s family thought she was imagining things.
“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.”
Mansfield Fire Chief Barry Bondurant, who said he didn’t feel the tremor, said he saw an explosion of comments on social media but no other evidence.
“We didn’t generate one call from that,” Bondurant said. “We didn’t get anything.”
Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton on Friday inspected natural gas wells and wastewater disposal sites in the earthquake’s vicinity and reported no damage. But the Railroad Commission ordered the operators of four disposal wells -- where wastewater from drilling and shale-fracturing process is injected -- to conduct well and reservoir testing, the agency said in a statement.
SMU researchers said the quake is among about 23 they have recorded within 12.4 miles of the Venus site since 2009. Five of them were higher than magnitude 3.
Their work and the results of other studies are establishing links between North Texas earthquakes and fracturing, wastewater disposal and other drilling-related activities in the Barnett Shale.
Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641