At 6:30 p.m. Monday, hydraulic fracturing critics have invited the public to the Azle Community Center for an information session about the rash of earthquakes there. And seven hours prior, yet another rumbled under the city.
The U.S. Geological Survey says a 3.1 magnitude earthquake occurred at 11:40 a.m. three miles northwest of Azle along Lark Street. USGS data shows this is the fourth earthquake between 2.8 to 3.3-magnitude to occur in the past 30 days. There have been more than 30 since Nov. 1.
Residents say the earthquakes began as disposal wells for hydraulic fracturing were installed in the area. The wells store thousands upon thousands of gallons of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations.
On Jan. 2, representatives from the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates gas drilling in the state, ventured north from Austin for a town hall meeting to address the trend with Azle residents. More than 800 attended and lent their boos and jeers to the proceedings, as our Teresa Woodard reported then.
Commissioner David Porter promised the agency is “concerned and is involved” but would not answer any questions and left before hearing every resident’s concern. Days later, the state announced plans to hire a seismologist.
But many attendees, some of whom have had their homes rattled and foundations cracked, were left frustrated. And so, the Earthworks Oil & Gas Accountability Project, the North Central Texas Communities Alliance and former Dish Mayor Calvin Tillman scheduled a meeting for tonight at the Azle Community Center to present their own information.
Some of that may involve the work of University of Texas at Austin professors Cliff Frolich and Wei Gan, who published a study last November that found a correlation between injection wells and a series of small earthquakes near Synder between 2006 and 2011.
A few months before that in July, researchers at Columbia University’s Earth Institute found that the thousands of gallons of wastewater held by injection wells put additional pressure on underground fault lines. This could play a role in triggering the earthquakes.
But nevertheless, the Monday morning quake will almost certainly be a point of discussion during the meeting –– it’s the second in that area so far this year. The first occurred on Saturday.