Oil and Gas Wells to Blame For More North Texas Earthquakes

Are you surprised?

A disposal well near Azle.  (photo by Elizabeth Lavin)
A disposal well near Azle. (photo by Elizabeth Lavin)

Today a new study was released in the journal Nature Communications that determined the causes of the unusual seismic activity (earthquakes) around Azle (northwest of Fort Worth) in November-December 2013, which Brantley Hargrove wrote about in the May 2014 issue of D Magazine.

Researchers from SMU, the University of Texas at Austin, and the U.S Geological Survey determined that activities related to oil and gas operations in the area, as the Morning News notes, are responsible for “shifting faults below Dallas-Fort Worth that have not budged in hundreds of millions of years”:

The scientists zeroed in on an unusual mechanism behind the quakes: workers pushing liquid into the ground on one side of a fault and sucking gas and groundwater from the other side of the fault.

“The combination of these activities seems to have triggered the earthquakes, and that was a real surprise to us,” said Matthew Hornbach, a geophysicist at SMU and a lead author of the paper.

Injecting fluids into the ground or extracting them has long been known to cause quakes, but rarely — if ever — have the two been caught acting in concert.

The geology of each region is unique, however, so these mechanisms may not be at work elsewhere.

So this isn’t evidence that the string of earthquakes over the last year that have been centered in Irving and parts of Dallas can also be blamed on the energy industry (research on those continues), but, c’mon. It is the third area of seismicity to be linked to pumping stuff into and out of the ground, and:

The seismologists also discounted natural shifts in tectonic plates as possible earthquake triggers. The two faults they mapped in Reno do not reach the surface, which suggests the faults have been dormant for more than 300 million years.

Yes, we shouldn’t ignore that the earthquakes haven’t continued near Azle, even as the wells are still operating. But what this study makes plain is that we don’t understand nearly as well as we should the consequences of injecting chemicals and wastewater deep beneath the surface. We are right to be highly skeptical when Exxon and XTO, plus the Railroad Commission (you know, the folks that are supposed to be regulating this business), tell us there’s nothing to worry about.


Get a weekly recap in your inbox every Sunday of our best stories from the week plus a primer for the days ahead.

Find It

Search our directories for...









View All

View All


  • Peter Kurilecz

    your headline should read “wastewater wells…” not “oil and gas wells.”

  • Dubious Brother

    Easy solution: pay enough to the seismologists ahead of the drilling so the pushing and the sucking are on the same side of the fault line.

  • Elizabeth Williams

    I have read testimonies about this great spell caster called Dr. Brave how he helped people to bring their lover back. so i decide to give him a try, i am here today to give my own testimony on how this great man brought my husband and brought great joy to my family, My name is Elizabeth Williams and I’m from New York City USA,and I’m happily married to a lovely and caring husband ,with three kids. A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my husband .so terrible that he took the case to court for a divorce.he said that he never wanted to stay with me again,and that he didn’t love me anymore.So he packed out of the house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get him back,after much begging,but all to no avail.and he confirmed it that he has made his decision,and he never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my husband .So i explained every thing to him,so he told me that the only way i can get my husband back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for him too.So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow his advice. Then he gave me the email address of the spell caster whom he visited.{[email protected]}. So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address he gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my husband back the next day.What an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my husband who didn’t call me for the past seven {8}months,gave me a call to inform me that he was coming back.So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster. So, i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same website { http://enchantedscents.tripod.com/lovespell/} and you can also reach Dr Brave through his mobile number +2348072370762,if you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to “bringing your ex back. So thanks to the Dr Brave for bringing back my husband ,and brought great joy to my family once again. { [email protected] }, Thanks..

  • Juanita Caulder

    I’ve been following the procedure these co’s use to extract gas & water from the earth. There is definetly something wrong here! But what is just as bad is the fact Texans are too busy with their own lives to stop & do something, or, @ least look into it. I’m a Fl native, retired Law enforcement from St of Fl. I’ve lived here in Austin area since 2007 due to my son & da marrying local Austin folks. You Texans really have it good here especially in this area. I wished my home St of Florida had it this good. Please ! Texans wake up & take care of what you have. Not everyone has what you have, also, You have so many decent & strong folks here with so much leadership. Don’t waste it …..talking to myself as well.

    • Smoky Joe

      Unfortunately, the people in charge of regulating oil and gas in Texas are totally corrupt. They don’t care about science or about protecting humanity. The only thing they care about is the profits of the industries that pay their campaign contributions.