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Causal factors for seismicity near Azle, Texas

January 1, 2015

In November 2013, a series of earthquakes began along a mapped ancient fault system near Azle, Texas. Here we assess whether it is plausible that human activity caused these earthquakes. Analysis of both lake and groundwater variations near Azle shows that no significant stress changes were associated with the shallow water table before or during the earthquake sequence. In contrast, pore-pressure models demonstrate that a combination of brine production and wastewater injection near the fault generated subsurface pressures sufficient to induce earthquakes on near-critically stressed faults. On the basis of modelling results and the absence of historical earthquakes near Azle, brine production combined with wastewater disposal represent the most likely cause of recent seismicity near Azle. For assessing the earthquake cause, our research underscores the necessity of monitoring subsurface wastewater formation pressures and monitoring earthquakes having magnitudes of ∼M2 and greater. Currently, monitoring at these levels is not standard across Texas or the United States.

Publication Year 2015
Title Causal factors for seismicity near Azle, Texas
DOI 10.1038/ncomms7728
Authors Matthew J. Hornbach, Heather R. DeShon, William L. Ellsworth, Brian W. Stump, Chris Hayward, Cliff Frohlich, Harrison R. Oldham, Jon E. Olson, M. Beatrice Magnani, Casey Brokaw, James H. Luetgert
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Nature Communications
Index ID 70198436
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Science Center