Scientists say oil and gas drilling triggers earthquakes in New Mexico


New Mexico (KRQE) – New Mexico is feeling more and more earthquakes, and scientists say people are causing them.

A new federal report by the U.S. Geological Survey said oil and gas drilling is the reason for the increase in small quakes.

“It’s been a very intense reviews of models and earthquakes over the past couple years for the USGS,” said Geophysicist Robert Williams.

The review landed areas like Raton to the north and Dagger Draw down south near Carlsbad on the list.

“Most of them that people are feeling are magnitudes 2.5 and greater range,” said Williams.

Experts said they’ve known about man’s ability to generate earthquakes for years. They said the recent increase is caused by the oil and gas industry inserting wastewater underground. Scientists said that process can initiate dormant faults.

Researchers said they believe the largest recorded man-made quake to shake the state was 5.2 magnitude in 2011 near the Colorado state line.

“We’re taking another step to inform the communities that might need to make decisions about waste water disposals,” said Williams.

As the oil and gas industries keep booming in New Mexico, researchers think the small quakes will just get more frequent.

KRQE News 13 spoke with the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association about the report. They said it’s an important issue, but they emphasized that the oil and gas industry is a key part of New Mexico’s economy.

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