It's not something we usually worry about here in San Angelo.  Earthquakes are a California or West Coast thing right?  Not so fast. Seismic activity does happen in this area and scientists say earthquake activity in the region may be on the rise.

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With the revolution in shale drilling in the Permian Basin a decade ago, many geologists predicted that there would be increased seismic activity.  Some laughed and it stayed relatively quiet in the region until 2015. Then suddenly, things started shaking.

Benjamin Massello on Unsplash
Benjamin Massello on Unsplash
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In 2015 there were six earthquakes that topped 3.0 on the Richter scale. Six more the next year.  Then the numbers exploded. In 2021 there were 181. So far this year 59 fresh reports of earthquakes more than 3.0 on the Richter scale.

At this point, West Texas is set to become the earthquake capital of North America. Even California and Alaska are bound to be overtaken by the sheer number of temblors here in West Texas.

Photo by Jens Aber on Unsplash
Photo by Jens Aber on Unsplash
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So far, none of the quakes have been big enough for damage.  These tremors might crack a wall here or there or slosh some water out of your aquarium but nothing major.  It was the same in Oklahoma until it wasn't. but judging from what happened in neighboring Oklahoma.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash
Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash
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There was a gradual pickup in Oklahoma also until quakes there started ripping walls off homes and buildings.  Regulators were able to stem the problem by stemming the flow of waste water injection into the ground. The Texas Railroad Commission which oversees the oil and gas industry has ordered an end to deep well disposal of the contaminated water brought to the surface during drilling for oil and gas.  This should help, but pressure to "drill, baby drill" to provide oil to make up for sanctioned Russian supplies is high.  Maybe, it's just the price we'll have to pay to keep the oil flowing.

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So far here in San Angelo we're lucky.  The biggest quake in the area was in Stanton, Texas and it reached  4.5 on the Richter scale back in December 2021. It was felt in San Angelo and across West Texas and Eastern New Mexico and even as far north as Abilene. There were few reports of damage. Let's just hope we never have to deal with "The Big One", whatever that could mean in West Texas.

Photo: Joe Browning for Townsquare Media
Photo: Joe Browning for Townsquare Media
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