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Two Small Earthquakes Shake Dallas; Jokes Ensue

People felt two small but noticeable earthquakes in the Dallas area Tuesday, with reports of shaking buildings and flickering lights. Some residents said they felt nothing; some worried about fracking; others joked about it all.

The first quake was measured at 3.5 magnitude, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and the second was measured at 3.6. Both of them were centered about 3.5 miles east-northeast of Irving, just outside of Dallas.

Irving is also close to the Dallas Cowboys' stadium in Arlington, prompting jokes related to two notable things about the team's win there Sunday: the presence of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the "phantom call" against Dallas that was reversed.

The Cowboys' AT&T Stadium will host Monday's NCAA football championship game between Oregon and Ohio State — prompting even the USGS to take a less-than-serious approach to the quakes.

And Brandon McCarthy, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers who lives in Dallas, got Twitter's attention when he announced that for him, the seismic event coincided with a bout of flatulence. The result, he said, was "magical."

As often happens, some felt the temblors more than others.

The Irving area has been feeling earthquakes for months, member station KERA reports:

"It's the strongest quake to hit Irving in recent months. Several quakes have hit Irving around State Highways 114 and 183 – near the stadium site and the city's only producing gas well. Reportedly, 18 earthquakes have been felt in the area since early September."

KERA also notes that experts are monitoring seismic conditions in Irving and in Azle, Texas, "where there's been a swarm of quakes."

In its page on the Irving earthquake, the USGS included a note on "induced seismicity," acknowledging that "some central and eastern North America earthquakes have been triggered or caused by human activities that have altered the stress conditions in earth's crust sufficiently to induce faulting."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.