A shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M5.3 hit near Mentone, western Texas at 10:27 UTC (04:27 LT) on November 8, 2023. The agency is reporting a depth of 7 km (4.3 miles).
This seismic event stands as the fifth strongest earthquake on record in Texas. It also marks the most significant earthquake to hit the state since the same region experienced a magnitude 5.4 quake on November 16, 2022, almost exactly one year ago.
More than 25 earthquakes have been recorded in this part of Texas over the past 7 days and 46 over the past 30 days. The quake was preceded by M2.6 on October 31. It was followed by M3.2 at 10:30 UTC on November 8, M3.4 at 10:31 UTC and 4 earthquakes with magnitudes lower than 3 by 10:57 UTC.
West Texas is distinguished by having the highest concentration of fault zones within the state. It is also recognized for its engagement in hydraulic fracturing, a method where fluids are injected into the subterranean layers to extract oil and natural gas, a process which has been linked to the increased frequency of induced seismicity. Studies suggest that the injection of wastewater from fracking operations into deep geological formations can elevate subsurface pressures, potentially triggering earthquakes along existing faults.
According to the USGS PAGER, 1 000 people are estimated to have felt moderate shaking caused by today’s quake and 670 000 light.
The USGS issued a Green alert for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses. There is a low likelihood of casualties and damage.
Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are resistant to earthquake shaking, though vulnerable structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are unreinforced brick masonry and reinforced masonry construction.
Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking
Selected cities exposed
Featured image credit: TW/SAM, Google
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