Morning earthquake breaks 2016 absent spell

The mild earthquake on Friday morning was still able to be felt in residence halls and buildings around campus.

At about 6:41 a.m. Aug. 25, many Irving residents felt a familiar tremor rising from the ground and up the walls.

The rumble was determined to have been a magnitude 3.1 earthquake, strong enough to be felt, but still relatively weak.

This is the largest earthquake Dallas has seen in more than a year – after a practically quake-free 2016.

Since 2008, the Dallas area has been experiencing earthquakes, partly due to the fact that a major fault line runs through this part of North Texas. But nature isn’t alone in causing at least some of the quakes, according to recent research on the subject.

A study conducted earlier this year by University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University researchers conclusively linked many of the earthquakes to gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, work in the area.

One way scientists have been able to tell which quakes are caused by human activity is by looking at the depth of the center of the earthquake.

Earthquakes caused by human intervention generally have a much more shallow center point than those with natural causes. In addition, the study concluded that earthquakes in Texas with a magnitude of 3 or larger have not been linked to racking.

Dr. Sally Hicks, University of Dallas Physics Department chair and professor, talked about how the earthquakes became more common when natural gas drilling and fracking increased.

Hicks, as well as federal researchers looking into the absence of earthquakes in 2016, noted that as energy activity in the area slowed down last year, the earthquakes became less frequent.

Land formerly owned by the University of Dallas, near the old Texas Stadium site, was used for natural gas drilling and fracking. Those wells are no longer active.

Students had grown accustomed to frequent mini-quakes throughout the year, until 2016, when the tremors virtually ceased.

The quakes have all been mild in nature, just light shakes leaving little, if any, damage.

Current seniors experienced earthquakes of similar magnitudes as freshman and sophomores, but were surprised at their comeback after a quiet 2016.

Gabri MacInnes, a senior psychology major, said, “I woke up and felt it, and I thought it was an earthquake, but since there hasn’t been an earthquake in a while here I wasn’t sure if it was the garbage truck.”

She added, “I think they’re interesting to feel as long as they’re not dangerous ones.”

Senior art major Mary Baker said, “I was surprised to be woken up by an earthquake, since the last time I experienced an earthquake of this magnitude was freshman year.”

“It was not a troubling experience, it was kind of random.,” said freshman biology major Gricelda Jasso. “Coming from Houston, I’d never felt anything like that. It honestly wasn’t that bad. It was just a slight trembling.”

The UD website provides information about what steps to take in the event of a severe earthquake, though it also states that there is a very low probability that a significant earthquake will strike the North Texas region.


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