A rare M5.0 earthquake hit at a depth of 5.2 miles near Mentone, Texas just after 10 a.m. Thursday, March 26, 2020.
The earthquake was reported initially as a 4.7 but was upgraded to 5.0 later, making it only the third earthquake to hit 5.0 in Texas history.
More than 1,000 people reported feeling the quake as far as El Paso, Midland, McCamey and Lubbock in Texas, in New Mexico and in Ciudad Juarez and other Mexican towns near the border with the U.S.
According to witnesses, this is one of the largest tremors felt in West Texas recently, a really big earthquake for West Texas standards.
A sheriff said it shook for a good 30-45 seconds.
The major quake was preceded by a M3.8 earthquake just before 4 a.m. and was followed an hour later by a M3.0 tremor.
TEXAS!! Now is not the time to join the earthquake state club. pic.twitter.com/icyI4spmzY— Brian Olson (@mrbrianolson) March 26, 2020
The second, stronger, tremor could be felt as far as 150 miles (245 kilometers) away in El Paso, Texas and neighboring Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Here some reports:
It felt like a truck going by, then you could hear a crack in the walls.
The entire house rocked, cookie jars rattled, furniture swayed. Felt and sounded like forceful wind storm.
I was sitting on my bed, when all of a sudden I feel bed moving back an forth I turn back and see my head board moving. At first I thought it might be the wind, than I look outside and there is no wind so I ran to my daughters bedroom and they told me they felt their bed moving as well. Very scary!
Living close to a rail line I first thought it was a train, but there were no whistles and it kept getting stronger. It also wasn’t continuous, I could feel the waves in my feet. My house creaked and things that are hanging started swinging.
shaking like a very large truck went by, coffee cup shook and monitor waved, felt motion/wave in chair and desk.
I woke up to feel my bed shake and my whole room swaying. I thought maybe something was being done to the roof because the whole house shook, but I realized no one was up there. My windows were rattling as well as though the train was going by. However, my mother was outside and did not feel anything.
Linked to fracking?
This part of texas is sparsely populated but full of truck traffic serving the oil drilling industry in the surrounding Permian Basin.
Geologists say thousands of earthquakes recorded in recent years have been linked to the underground injection of wastewater from oil and gas production .
Many earthquakes have occurred within or along the boundaries of producing oil and gas fields and near active petroleum fields or injection wells.
Along the Gulf Coast and in northeast Texas these include a few earthquakes with magnitudes between M4.0 and M4.8.
Earthquakes in Texas
Earthquakes do occur in Texas. Within the past century there have been more than 100 earthquakes large enough to be felt.
Their epicenters occur in more than 40 of Texas’s 257 counties. Five of these earthquakes have had magnitudes between 5 and 6, making them large enough to be felt over a wide area and produce significant damage near their epicenters.
Within Texas, there have been historical earthquakes which indicate potential earthquake hazard.
Two regions, near El Paso and in the Panhandle, should expect earthquakes with magnitudes of about 5.5-6.0 to occur every 50-100 years, and even larger earthquakes are possible.
In northeastern Texas there is potential hazard from very large earthquakes (M7 or above) which might occur outside of Texas, particularly in Oklahoma or Missouri-Tennessee New Madrid Seismic Zone.
Learn more about fault lines in Texas in this video:
Along the Texas Gulf Coast the hazard is generally low, but residents should be aware that earthquakes can occur there, including some which appear to be triggered by oil or gas production.
Texas does face some earthquake hazard, but it is very small in comparison to that in many other states, including California, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Washington.
In most parts of Texas earthquake hazard is also small compared to the hazard attributable from other natural phenomena, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.
Thus there is no need for Texas to enact sweeping changes in construction practices, or take other drastic measures to mitigate earthquake hazard. However, Texans need to begin learning about earthquakes. Be prepared for the next Big One!