The City of Irving understands that the community has questions about the series of minor tremors that have occurred in our area. Irving and researchers at Southern Methodist University are working together to help study the series of minor tremors that have occurred in the area.
Recent Earthquake Activity
Seismologists are deploying 23 seismographs across Irving and the surrounding area to gather data and help determine the precise epicenter of the tremors. SMU scientists stress that learning more about this recent series of earthquakes will be an incremental process. Scientists say they must first refine the location of the quakes before investigating the potential cause of the earthquakes.
Fully understanding the scope of this recent seismic activity is a multistep process that will take time, experts said.
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.
- Irving’s quakes range from 2.1 to 3.6, which are considered minor.
- The International Residential Code regulates most construction in the United States. Its map lists seismic risk levels and there are seven levels. North Texas is listed at the lowest risk level for seismic activity on the map.
- Seismologists began measuring earthquakes in North Texas in 2008.
- In early January 2015, researchers at SMU installed more than 20 seismographs to aid in the investigation of the cause of the tremors.
While the city is not certain about the cause of the higher frequency of these recent earthquakes, staff is being 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 in a timely manner. 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.