Thursday, 15 May 2014

Magnitude 3.1 Earthquake in Snyder County, Texas.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 3.1 Earthquake at a depth of 4.5 km, roughly 7 km north of the city of Snyder in Scurry County, Texas, slightly after 10.50 am local time (slightly after 3.50 pm GMT) on Wednesday 14 May 2014. This is a fairly small event, and there are no reports of any damage or injuries, though it is likely to have been felt locally.

The approximate location of the 14 May 2014 Scurry County Earthquake. Google Maps.

Northern Texas is affected by seismic activity on the Balcones, Mexia, Talco and Meers Fault systems, although not all of the recent quakes have been close to any of these structures, and any increase in seismic activity is likely to be viewed with concern by people living in the area. Some residents have linked to injection well drilling, (pumping liquids into oil or gas bearing rocks to displace the hydrocarbons and make it easier to extract), a process that has been linked to increased seismic activity in parts of the US and Europe.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America on 31 October 2013, Wei Gan of the School of Earth Sciences and Resources at the China University of Geosciences and the Institute for Geophysics at the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin and Cliff Frohlich, also of the nstitute for Geophysics at the Jackson School of Geosciences, link a series of Earthquakes in Scurry and neighbouring Kent County between 2006 and 2011 to the practice of using gasses as a displacement fluid during injection well drilling in the Cogdell Oil Field, which underlies the counties. Eighteen quakes with magnitudes in excess of 3.0 happened in the area during this time, following the adoption of the practice, with none having been recorded in the previous 24 years.

Map of study area, showing 2009–2011 earthquakes (red circles) located in this study, and wells injecting water (yellow squares). Large squares, wells where monthly injection volumes exceeded 16,000 m³/mo for one or more months during 2004–2011 period. White circle indicates town of Snyder, TX. Labels “Cogdell,” “Kelly–Snyder,” and “Salt Creek” are petroleum fields. Wei & Frohlich (2013).

Witness accounts of quakes can help geologists to understand these events and the rock structures that cause them. If you felt these quakes (or if you were in the area but did not, which is also useful information) you can report it to the USGS here.

See also...

Two workers have been killed by an explosion at a drilling rig in an oilfield near Orla in Loving County, Texas, slightly before 8.00 am...

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 3.3...

Around 64 000 liters of crude oil is believed to have leaked from a pipeline near the city of Smithville in Bastrop County, Texas, about 65 km east of Austin, that was discovered on Tuesday 29 October...

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