Southern Methodist University's new seismic activity sensors in the Azle-Reno area have detected numerous small earthquakes recently, many too small to be felt, but it will still take a year or more to collect enough data to allow researchers to say whether the tremors are related to nearby waste water injection wells. The school on Friday released some of the data from five sensors from the U.S. Geological Survey and seven additional sensors its researchers have installed. On one day, Jan. 28, the sensors recorded more than a dozen seismic events, but only one was large enough to be catalogued, said lead researcher Heather DeShon, a professor of geophysics at SMU. DeShon said that previous studies of quakes in North Texas have taken a year or two to be completed, peer-reviewed and published, and her currently study could be the same. Those studies, at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and in Johnson County, concluded that it was plausible that injection wells had caused small quakes in the immediate vicinity.
While the default hypothesis is that fluid from deep waste water injection wells could be triggering the quakes, "we have to gather the data" before making that conclusion, DeShon said. "Some of the previous studies had said, 'There is an injection well here, and an earthquake there, the earthquakes started when the well started.' We want to get to a point where we can say 'This particular well affected seemingly dead faults.' "
-- Jim Fuquay