Rare 5.2 earthquake jolts West Texas

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(MENTONE, Texas) — A rare earthquake stronger than magnitude 5.0 on the Richter Scale struck a remote area of West Texas early Wednesday, rattling homes and jolting residents awake, officials said.

The 5.3 magnitude quake occurred at 3:27 a.m. local time and its epicenter was about 24 miles southwest of Mentone, Texas, near the New Mexico border, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The earthquake occurred at a depth of roughly four miles, the USGA said.

The quake was followed by a series of aftershocks, including one measuring 3.4 on the Richter Scale.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

“You probably were just rudely awakened by an earthquake,” the National Weather Service in El Paso said in a social media post, adding that its staff members felt the quake in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, more than 200 miles from the quake’s epicenter.

Alexandros Savvaidis, a senior research scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, told ABC News that people reported feeling the earthquake as far away as Irving, located about 420 miles east of Mentone.

Savvaidis, who is also a monitor for the Texas Seismological Network, said the shaker occurred about 1.2 miles from where a 5.4 magnitude earthquake struck on Nov. 16, 2022. Another 5.4 earthquake occurred on Dec. 16, 2022, near Midland, Texas, about 100 miles northeast of Mentone, he said.

“This area is completely isolated,” Savvaidis said of the Mentone area, describing it as mostly used for oil and gas drilling country.

Savvaidis said Wednesday’s earthquake occurred in the Coalson Rupture Zone, where several faults are located.

He said despite the recent seismological activity in West Texas, earthquakes measuring 5.0 or higher are rare in the state. Only five earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.0 or stronger have occurred in Texas since 1900.

The most powerful earthquake to hit Texas was a 5.8 magnitude quake on Aug. 16, 1931, near Valentine, Texas, near the Mexico border. It damaged numerous homes and businesses.

Wednesday’s rattler ranked as the fifth most powerful earthquake to occur in Texas.

 

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