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Earthquake shakes South Texas

By Sonny Long
Oct. 20, 2011 at 5:20 a.m.


LARGEST QUAKE IN TEXAS

The largest earthquake recorded in Texas was on Aug. 16, 1931, near Valentine in west Texas. It was measured at magnitude 5.8.

Pete Boening was in the office of his Peggy, Texas farm machine shop when a 4.6 magnitude earthquake hit Thursday morning.

"It shook pretty good. I could feel it," Boening said. "We've had two or three the last 10 or 15 years. This one seems like it might have been a little stronger."

Boening said there was no noticeable damage.

Co-worker Alfred Krueger said he was heading out the door of his house when the quake hit.

"I shook real bad for a couple of seconds," Krueger said. "I realized what it was right away."

Peggy is an unincorporated community in southeastern Atascosa County and was near the epicenter of the earthquake. A 4.3 earthquake was reported in the same area in 1993.

Thursday's tremors were felt throughout South Texas.

"We were in a meeting in the temporary county courthouse, and the building shook," said Karnes County Judge Barbara Najvar Shaw. "We thought a car hit the building."

Geophysicist Amy Vaughan of the United States Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo., confirmed the quake.

"It looks like there was a seismic episode this morning at 7:24 a.m.," Vaughan said.

The epicenter was 37 miles northwest of Beeville.

No damage was reported in connection with the earthquake, said Rachel Jordan-Shuss, assistant public information officer for the Texas Department of Emergency Management.

Earthquake researcher Cliff Frohlich at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics said earthquakes in that area of South Texas are not unusual and it is too early to know if activity related to oil and gas production was a contributing factor.

"There has been oil and gas production there since the 1970s, and there have been earthquakes there since the '70s," Frohlich said.

"It wouldn't be a surprise if there was a connection because of the fracking that is under way there, but it's the disposal wells that are most associated with earthquakes and not the production process itself."

"But whether it has anything to do with Thursday's earthquake is simply unknown at this point," he said.

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