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5.4 magnitude earthquake hits West Texas, with reports of shaking all the way in Austin

A USGS earthquake map shows the quake hit near the Texas-New Mexico border, west of Midland and northwest of the town of Pecos.
U.S. Geological Survey
The earthquake hit not far from the Texas-New Mexico border, near the town of Pecos, this afternoon.

An unusually large earthquake — for Texas — struck western parts of the state around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Staff at Texas Public Radio reported light shaking in San Antonio, and the U.S. Geological Survey said it has received reports of shaking in Austin.

The magnitude 5.4 quake appears to be one of the largest in Texas history, according to Jonathan Tytell, a geophysicist with the USGS. "This was a big event," Tytell said.

The largest known earthquake to ever hit the state was a 6.0 magnitude quake in the town of Valentine, near Marfa, in 1931.

The epicenter of Wednesday's earthquake was not far from the New Mexico border — about 35 miles northwest of the town of Pecos. The epicenter was close to the same area where a 5.0 earthquake hit in March 2020, Tytell said.

He said the earthquake was likely caused by oil and gas industry activity in the area.

Marfa Public Radio's Travis Bubenik said he noticed his monitor shaking around 3:30. He noted this part of the West Texas oilfield has a history of earthquakes, "but this one is an unusually big one!"

KUT's Mose Buchele reported in 2019 that earthquake activity in the state has "skyrocketed" in recent years because of increased oil and gas activity.

Did you feel the earthquake? The USGS asks that you fill out this online survey to let it know. As of around 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, 1,040 people had submitted reports.

Andy Jechow is the audience engagement editor for KUT News. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter at @AndyJechow.
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