Residents around Eagle Mountain Lake outside of Fort Worth have had a shaky few months. Dozens of small earthquakes have struck the area out of the blue. The Dallas-Fort Worth area is not known as a place that’s prone to earthquakes. In fact, before 2007, there were no recorded earthquakes in the area. Since then, there have been hundreds.
Studies of other swarms of earthquakes to the south in Johnson County and around the Dallas-Fort Worth airport have shown disposal wells to be the culprit, where wastewater from oil and gas drilling is injected deep underground. Inject enough wastewater, at the right pressure, and it can cause quiet faults to slip, resulting in earthquakes.
“Over just five years, we’ve come from an environment where, although experts like myself knew injection could cause earthquakes, it wasn’t something on companies minds or the public’s mind,” said Cliff Frohlich, a geologist at the University of Texas at Austin, during an earlier interview. Frohlich has led much of the research into the Texas quakes.
“We’ve gone to an environment now where a lot of people are worrying about this. And over the next five years, this is going to result in a lot more knowledge about the phenomenon. And how to handle it in a responsible way,” Frorhlich said.
Now the quakes seem to have gotten the attention of Texas’ oil and gas regulator, the Railroad Commission of Texas.
Until now, the commission has consistently responded to these kinds of quakes by saying any links to oil and gas wastewater disposal are hypothetical. But now Railroad Commissioner David Porter is planning a town hall meeting tonight in the North Texas town of Azle, the epicenter for many of the quakes, to talk about the tremors. In a release from his office, Porter says he will listen to concerns from residents and talk about what he plans to do about the quakes.
Other regional officials are expected to participate, as well. The meeting will last from 5-7 pm in the Azle High School Auditorium.