Dallas suburb rattled by 3.4-magnitude quake

DALLAS (AP) -   A small earthquake and a subsequent aftershock lent an element of "surprise" to the overnight hours in a suburb west of Dallas.
   Authorities reported no serious damage from Saturday's late-night quakes, just cracked walls and pictures being knocked down. The unscathed Dallas-Fort Worth airport, near the epicenter, kept up with normal flight operations. And emergency officials said they had no indications of any injuries.
   The initial earthquake, measured at a preliminary magnitude of 3.4, struck at 11:05 p.m. CDT Saturday and was centered about 2 miles north of the Dallas suburb of Irving, the US Geological Survey's national earthquake monitoring center in Golden, Colo., reported.
   USGS geophysicist Randy Baldwin told The Associated Press from Colorado that the initial quake lasted several seconds and appeared strong enough to be felt up to 15 or 20 miles away. He said the smaller aftershock with an estimated 3.1 magnitude occurred four minutes later and just a few miles away in another area west of Dallas.
   Irving's emergency operators were flooded with more than 400 calls after the initial quake, with people reporting minor damage, such as cracks in some walls and a ceiling, pictures that had been knocked down and a report of a possible gas leak, according to emergency official Pat McMacken.
   City officials said they were still following up on the various reports early Sunday.
   The Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport continued routine operations even though the shaking was felt at the airport, which is partly located in Irving's city limits, airport public affairs officer David Magana said. He told AP that the airport, which has 1,800 daily departures and arrivals, had little air traffic late Saturday night.
   He said the quake caught the attention of those at the airport, but didn't prompt wider alarm.
   "I wouldn't call it panic. I would call it surprise," Magana said by phone.
   He said members of the airport operations team went out afterward and inspected landing strips, buildings and other airport installations and found no damage.
   "There were no impacts or outages and no disruptions to flights," Magana said. "I felt it at my house. It shook it a little bit but it wasn't enough of a jolt to shake anything loose like you have in California. I've been in California and this was nothing like that."
   Baldwin said more aftershocks are possible Sunday, noting the region has been periodically rattled by small quakes, including a cluster of minor ones in 2008.
   "There are parts of Texas that certainly have more quakes than others," USGS geophysicist Don Blakeman said Sunday, specifically mentioning West Texas. But, he said, naturally occurring quakes can happen anywhere.
   About 1,200 reports by people who felt the quake were recorded with the Colorado earthquake monitoring center soon after it hit.

   AP-WF-09-30-12 1457GMT

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