Fourth Strongest Quake In Texas History Rattles Nation's Largest Fracking Region
A magnitude 5.4 earthquake rattled parts of the Permian basin on Friday. The area is the largest oil-producing region in the US, located in West Texas -- and has more fracking operations than anywhere in the world.
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck northwest of Midland around 5:35 pm local time, and three minutes later, a tremor of magnitude 3.3 followed.
It's the second time in 30 days that a sizeable quake has hit the West Texas region. The last was Nov. 16, when a 5.3-magnitude earthquake hit the area.
"I thought it was the wind until I realized the wind wouldn't be making the light fixtures sway. Midland will get tremors that are rarely even felt but that was a full blown earthquake," someone in West Texas tweeted.
I thought it was the wind until I realized the wind wouldn’t be making the light fixtures sway. Midland will get tremors that are rarely even felt but that was a full blown earthquake.— Wallflower Power ✌️ (@ellawscott) December 16, 2022
On Friday evening, the National Weather Service's Midland tweeted:
"We just felt an earthquake here at the office! While we don't actively monitor or track earthquakes ... but this would be the 4th strongest earthquake in Texas state history!"
Preliminary data from the USGS reports the earthquake was a magnitude 5.3 centered 12 miles to the NNW of Midland with a depth of 3 miles. This would be the 4th strongest earthquake in Texas state history! #txwx #earthquake— NWS Midland (@NWSMidland) December 16, 2022
Earthquakes have been linked to fracking operations. Latest data via Bloomberg shows shale oil production in Permian Basin has jumped to a record high.
The USGS wrote in a recent study that a magnitude-five quake that struck West Texas in 2020 resulted from frackers injecting wastewater into wells in the region.