ETX geologist talks about Timpson earthquakes

People in Timpson woke up to another earthquake early Tuesday morning. It was just a 2.8, compared to the 4.1 magnitude earthquake that shook the town Friday.

People are still wondering why the ground keeps moving under their feet.

"Earthquakes, you know, the larger ones that people are familiar with out in California and stuff, those are two tectonic plates either rubbing into each other or crashing into each other," Tyler Junior College Geology Professor Rebecca Harper said. "That's not what we have here in Texas."

Harper said East Texas has much more shallow fractures in the ground. They're unstable because of salts that move around below the earth's crust.

Timpson sits in the Mount Enterprise fault system which was having earthquakes a century before anyone had heard of fracking. Some people blame that drilling process for what's been happening.

Harper said there's just not enough information to say for sure.

"That area has been seeing earthquakes going back hundreds of years or so before any of that happened," Harper said. "So it's hard to say with absolute certainty that that's what caused it. It is a possibility. Fracking has been known in some cases to reactivate faults. So that is certainly a possibility."

Harper said it's equally likely that a buildup of dirt and rocks could have made one side of a fault line heavier than the other. That would be enough to cause these minor earthquakes.

Harper said the faults are just too shallow to produce one of those major California-style quakes. But they stretch far enough through East Texas that we could potentially see small quakes all the way up to Lindale.

The Mount Enterprise fault system that runs through East Texas was formed 150 million years ago.


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