After a Rash of Earthquakes, Should North Texas Update its Building Codes?

The SMU-led seismic study of North Texas revealed that hydraulic fracturing injection wells most likely activated a dormant fault, leaving the town of Azle all shook up. (map: SMU)

The SMU-led seismic study of North Texas revealed that hydraulic fracturing injection wells most likely activated a dormant fault, leaving the town of Azle all shook up. (map: SMU)

Did you feel that earthquake this morning? We definitely did, and it happened just as I was dropping off my preschooler in Lakewood. The tremor, a 2.7 magnitude quake near Farmers Branch according to the United States Geological Survey map, made me wonder if my son’s school was built to withstand a significant earthquake. It’s something we have to start thinking about as our area is shaken physically and mentally by the growing frequency of seismic activity.

Existing structures are one of the biggest challenges earthquake-prone areas face, as many buildings are constructed without the proper seismic reinforcement. Masonry buildings, ones without steel crossbeam or framing, can pose a significant risk to inhabitants. Considering the recent report from SMU linking our recent spate of earthquakes to hydraulic fracturing and injection wells, should North Texas update its building codes and best practices so that more buildings can withstand the tremors?

If you want to be part of the discussion, AIA Dallas will host a panel from noon to 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Dallas Center for Architecture. The panel discussion will feature Jarod Fancher, Assoc. AIA, Barry Beazley, AIA, Bruce W. Rachel, AIA, and Linda Brown, Assoc. AIA. The group will discuss the science surrounding earthquakes, the history and geology of our region, and seismic building design.

Be sure to register in advance, as it will likely fill up.