Weatherford Democrat

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December 3, 2013

Recent earthquakes causing dam concern

From Staff and LSNG Reports

Recent earthquakes in the area have officials looking at dams and infrastructure to make sure no damage is present or could develop later.

Inspections of the earthen dam at Eagle Mountain Lake are taking place while Brazos River Authority officials said they inspected the Morris Sheppard Dam at Possum Kingdom Lake on Thursday following two ground rattlers earlier that day north of Mineral Wells, the strongest a 3.6 magnitude.

There have been nearly two dozen area earthquakes, including 17 in the Springtown-Azle-Reno area of Parker County, recorded since early November.

BRA public information officer Judi Pierce said her office completed an inspection of the Possum Kingdom Lake Dam “first-thing” Thursday morning, per an internal policy stating the BRA inspects the dam after any kind of quake within 60 miles.

Pierce said the BRA is only required to inspect the dam if there is a 4.4-magnitude quake within 15 miles of the lake or a 5.0-or-higher quake within 12 miles, because of stipulations set by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“We have seen no indication that there was any kind of shifting or cracking [in the dam],” Pierce told the Mineral Wells Index. “It’s an abundance of caution for us. We’re expecting there may be more [earthquakes].”

The two local quakes are only the latest in a series of North Texas earthquakes stretching from Richland Hills to 14 miles southwest of Jacksboro. The bulk of these quakes have been concentrated in the areas around Azle and Springtown. Mineral Wells’ 3.6 magnitude quake matched the strongest yet documented over the past month, with the other 3.6 occurring northwest of Azle on Nov. 19.

Although the 3.6 shocks are by no means the strongest earthquakes in Texas history, based on information from the U.S. Geological Survey, they are rare for this area. The USGS and Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates Texas’ oil and gas industries, are studying the earthquakes and collecting data to try and determine a cause.

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