5.0 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes West Texas and El Paso Areas

A 5.0 magnitude earthquake shook West Texas, between the city of El Paso and Odessa on Thursday Morning.

A powerful earthquake shook the city of El Paso and Odessa. The first tremor registered a 3.0 magnitude, while the second one was a magnitude of 5.0 at about 6 hours later. A deputy clerk at the Loving County Sheriff's Department, Verta Sparks, told ABC News that:

"It felt like a truck going back; then, you could hear a crack in the walls."

A picture of an earthquake. | Photo: Getty Images

A picture of an earthquake. | Photo: Getty Images

The earthquake happened near the line between the mountain and the central time zones. In El Paso, a staff in the call center for the state's 2-1-1 Texas program -- a 24-hour social service hotline -- evacuated over the tremors. The city of El Paso said in a tweet:

"Calls will still be answered by the network, but the local specialists are offline."

No major injuries or damage was recorded by the county, which sits about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the epicenters of the quakes.

The earthquake occurred as the result of shallow normal faulting about 40 km west of the town of Mentone, Texas. The earthquake occurred within the interior of the North America plate, far from any plate boundaries.

The preliminary focal mechanism solution for the earthquake indicates rupture occurred on a moderately dipping fault plane striking roughly east-west. 

On Aug 1, 1975, a magnitude 4.8 earthquake occurred approximately 30 km to the south of this earthquake.

The earthquake location aligns with old faults in the basement and is nearly 75 km east of currently mapped north-south oriented Quaternary active faults. Further analysis and possibly fieldwork are required to associate this earthquake with an existing or unmapped fault.

Locations across the central and eastern United States (CEUS) have been experiencing an increase in the number of earthquakes over the past two decades.

Scientific studies have linked most of this increase to human (induced) activity, predominantly related to wastewater injection in deep disposal wells in several locations.

However, other mechanisms such as fluid withdrawal, enhanced oil recovery, or hydraulic fracturing processes can also result in induced earthquakes. Furthermore, regions with frequent induced events may be subject to damaging earthquakes that would have occurred independently of human activity.

On Aug 1, 1975, a magnitude 4.8 earthquake occurred approximately 30 km to the south of this earthquake; however, a detailed history of small (less than magnitude 3) earthquakes in this region is not well known because seismometers did not well cover the area until recent years.

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