By Marice Richter
DALLAS (Reuters) - Seismologists installed a new earthquake-monitoring device in the Dallas suburb of Irving this week after a series of minor temblors rocked an area near the site of the former Dallas Cowboys football stadium.
Irving was hit by a 2.4-magnitude earthquake on New Year’s Day, the 17th recorded in the city since September. The seismic series has raised questions about the cause in the area that has seen an uptick in quakes over the last several years.
"The safety and security of our residents is paramount for the city of Irving," said Irving City Manager Chris Hillman.
Some residents believe the implosion of Texas Stadium in 2010 may have exacerbated problems. There is also speculation the quakes might be related to hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," an energy extraction technique that has a long history in north Texas.
Irving, headquarters of Exxon Mobil’s XTO unit that helped pioneer hydraulic fracturing in the region, has two gas wells that were fracked in 2010, according to city officials.
The study by seismologists from Southern Methodist University in Dallas is aimed at identifying the quakes' exact location, said SMU seismology professor Brian Stump.
About 40 miles west of Irving, a series of small earthquakes rattled the town of Azle a year ago, causing sinkholes and cracks in house foundations. Residents blamed fracking and injection disposal wells for drilling waste as the cause but an official finding is still pending.
Energy industry officials have said fracking is safe and caused no significant seismic damage
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Doina Chiacu)