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SMU Quake Study Finds Narrow Fault Line

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Scientists with Southern Methodist University and the U.S. Geological Survey released an interim report on Friday sharing the initial results of their study into recent North Texas earthquakes.

Roughly two dozen temblors have rattled the area since the beginning of the year, and more than 40 earthquakes have hit since April of last year. Most of the quakes have been centered around the old Texas Stadium site in Irving. Some of them have even caused minor damage.

Read The Interim Report

In the newly released report, the university's seismology team indicated that there is a narrow two-mile fault extending from Irving into Dallas. This line could explain the string of small earthquakes.

With help from more than 20 portable monitors, researchers plotted the earthquake epicenters and discovered the line.

"This is a first step, but an important one, in investigating the cause of the earthquakes," said SMU seismologist Brian Stump. "Now that we know the fault's location and depth, we can begin studying how this fault moves."

The depths -- between 4.5 kilometers and 7 kilometers -- are all considered to be close to the surface. This explains why people all across the Metroplex have been able to feel the shaking of even the smallest quakes.

The preliminary report also noted that there are two natural gas wells near those epicenters. The report does not assign a definitive reason for the earthquakes, but researchers are looking into shale gas production.

Despite the report's findings, SMU scientists said that there is still no way to predict when the series of quakes will end, or how strong any future earthquakes could be. So far, there has not been a recent tremor in Irving that reached 4.0 in magnitude.

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