Far West Texas deals with 40 earthquakes in less than 24 hours | Jobi Cool


The biggest quake of them all was a 5.4-magnitude quake that was felt as far away as Midland, San Antonio and Ciudad Jaurez, according to reports from the Associated Press, among others. It was the third strongest earthquake in the state’s history.

The magnitude of the quake, specifically the 5.4 quake, was enough for the Railroad Commission to announce it was sending inspectors to Reeves County. Wednesday’s strongest quake was the strongest recorded in the lower 48 states this calendar year.

“The agency is monitoring seismic data from the US Geological Survey, the TexNET seismic monitoring program and private operator monitoring stations and will take all necessary actions to protect public safety and the environment,” the Railroad Commission said in a news release Thursday. “RRC inspectors are reviewing injection well disposal activities in the area, and staff are also reviewing permit requirements and seismic response plans of operators in the Northern Culberson-Reeves Seismic Response Area (SRA).”

The quakes occurred in relatively the same area west-southwest of Mentone. The first quake, a magnitude 5.4, struck 25.5 miles west-southwest of Mentone at about 3:32 p.m. Thirty-one earthquakes ranging in magnitude from 1.9 to 4.1 were reported between 3:39 a.m. and 7:49 p.m., according to the USGS. At 9:54 p.m., the quakes returned with a magnitude of 2.1-3.8.

The last seven quakes, including five that occurred between Thursday and 3 p.m., were smaller than magnitude 3.0, according to earthquaketrack.com. At the same place, it was stated that 42 earthquakes had occurred in the last 24 hours after the 5.4-magnitude earthquake. It also showed 70 tremors in the last seven days, 199 in the last 30 days and 1,668 in the last 365 days,

TexNet, the Texas State Earthquake Monitoring Network, said the following about the seismic activity:

“We are still studying the data associated with these seismic events,” said Scott W. Tinker, Texas state geologist and director of the Bureau of Economics. “Our first concern is of course for people who may have been affected by these earthquakes. The professional scientists of the TexNet team, led by Alexandros Savvaidis, are working diligently to analyze the data we have received from the TexNet network of checkpoints.”

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Mentone’s district representative Eddie Morales, Jr., said he had spoken with local authorities and that no injuries had been reported. He said on Twitter that state officials will “check roads, bridges and other infrastructure as a precaution.”

In March, the Reporter-Telegram reported that Permian Basin oil and gas companies have teamed up with the railroad commission to create a plan to deal with the region’s increasing rate and intensity of earthquakes.

A first-of-its-kind, operator-led response plan – the Northern Culberson-Reeves Seismic Response Area – was implemented by the Commission. The goal of the plan is to reduce the strength and frequency of earthquakes, including eliminating earthquakes of magnitude 3.5 or greater by the end of 2023.

“Based on reviews and meetings with operators, action will be taken on the steps outlined in the Operational Plan (OLRP),” the RRC said. “Actions outlined in the plan include, but are not limited to, expanding the boundaries of the SRA and further reducing injection volumes.”

“The OLRP requires that all deep disposal wells within the 9 kilometer boundary in the SRA be closed for 24 months in the event of an earthquake of magnitude 4.5 or greater within the boundary. There are no active deep disposal wells within the 9 km border. A reduction in injection volume from shallow disposal wells has occurred relative to the schedule contained in the OLRP.

The committee also said there is a potential lag between changes in injection rates and changes in seismic activity.

“Historical activity indicates a potential lag of 12-18 months,” the RRC said. “RRC staff will continue their work and monitoring to mitigate earthquakes in that area to keep residents and the environment safe.”



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