Study confirms dramatically more earthquakes in West Texas

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MIDLAND, Tx. (KOSA) - A new study released shows the rise of earthquakes happening all over the Permian Basin.

The maps show back in 2009 quake activity was very low, starting from 2011-2014 the activity saw a steady increase. Than in the year 2017 the activity of these quakes increase dramatically.

A study led by the University of Texas at Austin shows since the year 2009 earthquake activity in West Texas, especially the area close to Pecos has seen a dramatic increase in earthquakes.

Petter Hennings, one of the co-authors of the study said this study is important because it goes back 20 years, much further back than other studies has done before.

He said these earthquakes are small and usually not felt on the surface but it's important to pay attention to them especially since more and more keep happening.

“It does not link earthquakes to hydraulic fracturing or to the disposal of waste water in deep wells or to oil and gas development but all of that hydrocarbon development has increased pretty much dramatically over that same time period,” said Hennings.

The maps show back in 2009 quake activity was very low, starting from 2011-2014 the activity saw a steady increase. Than in the year 2017 the activity of these quakes increase dramatically.

“Well, earthquakes are a natural process, of course but human activity can also cause them and human activity thus far in West Texas has only caused very small earthquakes,” said Hennings.

Hennings said they will continue to gain a better understanding on these earthquakes to get them better under control.

He said it is their main goal to make sure these quakes do not get big enough to cause hazard to properties or people.

“Those earthquakes are not felt on the surface. They are tiny, but there are a few still felt on the surface and they can be alarming so the goal is to understand what might be causing those earthquakes that are being felt,” said Hennings.