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UTPB geology professor explains recent earthquake

The United States Geological Survey reported a 4.5 magnitude earthquake about 11 miles north of Stanton on Monday evening.

ODESSA, Texas — The United States Geological Survey reported a 4.5 magnitude earthquake about 11 miles north of Stanton Monday around 7:55 p.m.

The NewsWest 9 newsroom received phone calls and messages from viewers in Andrews, Big Spring, Midland, and of course, Stanton, who said they felt the quake.

Robert Trentham, Senior Lecturer and Research Associate for the Department of Geosciences at University of Texas Permian Basin, said that these earthquakes are not uncommon and will likely continue in our area if things aren't changed.

"In the last month there have been earthquakes by Garden City, Gardendale, Snyder and Stanton," said Trentham. "This one is a 4.5, which is one that can be easily felt and can cause some damage."

Trentham explained that earthquakes happen in the Permian Basin for one particular reason.

"The reason they are happening is not because of the fracking, but the injection of produced water," said Trentham. "This causes changes in the pressures depth, and that causes rocks to slip past each other, which generates an earthquake."

Professor Trentham said that if this process is not controlled then the area could mutate the same way other states have.

"In Oklahoma, they were doing the same thing that we are doing, the injection of produced water," said Trentham. "They were injecting closer to the basement, where there were more faults. That was the rationale of why their earthquakes were more intense and more often."

Trentham told NewsWest 9 he feels hopeful that the common occurrence of earthquakes will not sick around.

"The Permian Basin oil and gas companies are trying to work with the regulators, the Railroad Commission and with other companies who have ideas about how to reduce how much water they put in," said Trentham. "This is probably a problem that over time will be lessened by the work of oil agencies, companies and researchers combined."