Science and Resources
Studying North Texas Earthquakes
The City of Irving and researchers at Southern Methodist University are working together to help study the series of minor tremors that have occurred in the area.
- SMU researchers released their preliminary report (PDF) of findings to the city that identified the epicenter locations of these quakes. The data show the earthquake epicenters ran along the Trinity River from north Irving to west Dallas, with the majority of magnitude 3+ earthquakes occurring in Dallas, and none occurring on the former stadium site, as earlier reported.
- On Jan. 15, 2015, SMU professor and seismologist Dr. Brian Stump spoke to attendees and viewers of the evening's City Council Meeting about the recent swarm of tremors in North Texas. Read his prepared statement (PDF).
- Experts with SMU have installed 22 seismographs in Irving and Dallas to help identify the precise location of the earthquakes. Scientists say this is the first step in studying the tremors.
- Researchers say it will take time for them to analyze the data from their equipment and it could take months – possibly years – before they have answers. The city will continue to communicate the information we receive as we receive it.
- Irving and Dallas are forming a task force to help coordinate a regional response to the earthquakes and see what measures can be taken to help educate and protect the community. In addition, the city is working with Dallas County officials on emergency management protocols.
Natural Gas Infrastructure
Atmos Energy stated it is closely monitoring the number of recent, minor earthquakes that have occurred in and around Irving in recent weeks. As of Jan. 7, the utility has no indications of any abnormalities or integrity issues on its natural gas system as a result of these earthquakes.
In addition to monitoring the system following an earthquake, Atmos pointed out it routinely assesses the condition of our pipelines through leak surveys, foot and air patrols, and monitoring devices that help pinpoint areas of needed repair. After reviewing the pipelines potentially affected by the earthquakes, the utility reported these surveying measures have not yielded any natural gas leaks directly connected to the recent earthquakes.
Residents, business owners and employees are reminded that safety is a top priority. Natural gas is odorized with a "rotten egg" smell known as Mercaptan to help identify a gas leak. As a reminder, if you ever smell natural gas, leave the area immediately and from a safe distance call 9-1-1 or the Atmos emergency line toll-free at (866) 322-8667. Atmos Energy will respond to any leak call, at no expense to the customer.
City of Irving staff has spoken with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), national experts on earthquakes, and they have informed us that:
- Millions of earthquakes occur around the world every year and the vast majority are minor.
- The International Residential Code regulates most construction in the United States. Its map lists seven seismic risk levels. North Texas is listed at the lowest risk level for seismic activity.
- Seismologists began measuring earthquakes in North Texas in 2008.
While the city is not certain about the cause of the increased seismic activity, staff has been proactive in enlisting the support of subject-matter experts at the USGS and seismologists at SMU. City staff members are in constant contact with experts at both institutions regarding the situation. Irving’s Office of Emergency Management continues to monitor the situation and remains prepared.
The city is committed to communicating information and updates related to seismic activity with the community as we receive it. Residents can find the most up-to-date information from the city on its website in the Latest News section. Residents can sign up for news alerts via email or text message with the city's Notify Me feature.