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11 minor earthquakes rattle Dallas area

By Danielle Haynes

IRVING, Texas, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Eleven earthquakes rattled the greater Dallas area over the course of about 24 hours Tuesday and Wednesday, the strongest so far in a series of more than two dozen temblors in the region since November.

All but one of the eleven earthquakes were situated in Irving near the former site of Texas Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys played until AT&T Stadium was constructed in Arlington, Texas, in 2009.

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Until this week, the area had seen at least 16 earthquakes since the beginning of November, one every few days or so. The strongest was a 3.3-magnitude on Nov. 22, but most have been in the 2.0-magnitude range.

All that changed Tuesday when a 3.5-magnitude quake was widely felt across the region at 3:10 p.m. local time, 3 miles east northeast of Irving.

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Later in the evening, around 7 p.m., a stronger, 3.6-magnitude earthquake hit the area. The earthquakes continued throughout the evening, including one at 8:11 p.m., a 2.9-magnitude quake, and one at 8:12 p.m., a 2.7-magnitude hit.

There was another 3.1-magnitude temblor around 1 a.m. Wednesday, and a 2.6-magnitude and 2.7-magnitude at about 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively. The rest of the quakes felt Tuesday and Wednesday were in the 1.0-magnitude range. A 1.7-magnitude quake was felt at 9:54 p.m. in Farmers Branch, about 10 miles northeast of Irving.

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No significant damage or injuries were reported, though some residents have noticed cracks appearing in walls and household items overturned.

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The recent uptick in temblors in an area that has traditionally not seen much seismic activity has some residents pondering the cause. Some believe they could be caused by hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- like a series of 77 earthquakes in Ohio last March.

But Dr. Craig Pearson, a seismologist with the Texas Railroad Commission said in a statement to the Dallas Morning News, "there are no oil and gas disposal wells in Dallas County."

"And I see no linkage between oil and gas activity and these recent earthquakes in Irving," he said.

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Brian Stump, a seismologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said the school is using three seismometers to study the activity.

"Even this part of Texas has old faults, and those old fault have stored stress," he said. "The disposal of fluids [wastewater] in some cases can trigger small quakes."

Though Tuesday and Wednesday's earthquakes were relatively weak, they were widely felt through the Dallas area. Residents, including local celebrities, took to Twitter to share their reaction to the unusual seismic activity.

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Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn said the afternoon quake woke him from his game-day nap.

Similarly, Texas Rangers' pitcher Derek Holland had a little trouble while in the shower.

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