5.4 magnitude earthquake hits West Texas, with reports of shaking stretching to Austin

The quake appears to be one of the largest in Texas history, according to a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The earthquake hit not far from the Texas-New Mexico border, near the town of Pecos, Wednesday afternoon. (U.S. Geological Survey)

By Andy Jechow, KUT

An unusually large earthquake — for Texas — struck western parts of the state around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Staff at Texas Public Radio reported light shaking in San Antonio, and the U.S. Geological Survey said it has received reports of shaking in Austin.

The magnitude 5.4 quake appears to be one of the largest in Texas history, according to Jonathan Tytell, a geophysicist with the USGS. The largest known earthquake to ever hit the state was a 6.0 magnitude quake in the town of Valentine, near Marfa, in 1931.

The epicenter of Wednesday’s earthquake was not far from the New Mexico border — about 35 miles northwest of the town of Pecos. The epicenter was close to the same area where a 5.0 earthquake hit in March 2020, Tytell said.

He said the earthquake was likely caused by oil and gas industry activity in the area. 

Marfa Public Radio’s Travis Bubenik said he noticed his monitor shaking around 3:30. He noted this part of the West Texas oilfield has a history of earthquakes, “but this one is an unusually big one!”

KUT’s Mose Buchele reported in 2019 that earthquake activity in the state has “skyrocketed” in recent years because of increased oil and gas activity.

Did you feel the earthquake? The USGS asks that you fill out this online survey to let it know. As of around 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, 1,040 people had submitted reports.

About Marfa Public Radio Staff

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