Why Has West Texas Had More than 260 Earthquakes This Week?
The most seismically-active region in America this week isn't the New Madrid Fault in Missouri or even the San Andreas in California. It's a small area in west Texas that has been rocked by more than 260 earthquakes the just the past 7 days alone.
Before I explore the question of why, here's the incredible map shared by the USGS showing just the tremors felt in west Texas this past week. Note the largest was a very strong 5.2 quake that was felt by more than 1100 people.
While the 5.2 quake on Wednesday, November 8 was the strongest, there have been many larger than 3 magnitude according to the USGS.
Why is Texas suddenly having so many earthquakes?
The USGS Fault Lines map shows this is actually a part of America filled with possible villains.
There is another theory that these quakes are triggered by oil production. An article by Marketplace said "the vast majority of these quakes have been triggered by oil companies pumping wastewater from the drilling process into the ground". It's a controversial topic that has been addressed by neighboring states like Oklahoma who explored the connection between that wastewater injection and earthquake swarms. The Texas Tribune directly connected the 5.2 quake this week to an area of the oil fields that has long been a place where waste water injection is practiced.
No matter the cause, west Texas tremors continue to happen this week with hopefully the larger shakes in the rear view mirror now. Time will tell.
The Strongest Earthquakes in East Texas History
Gallery Credit: Danny Merrell