Geophysics Program

Information on New Mexico Seismic Activity from the New Mexico Tech Seismological Observatory


Press Release. 06/05/2008 1:30 pm MDT: Earthquake between Chama and Abiqui, NM

A minor felt earthquake (3.7 USGS) occurred on June 4, 2008, at 08:02:42 MDT (14:02:42 UTC). According to the USGS, the quake was centered at 36.51 degrees N, 106.35 degrees W -- approximately 27 miles (43 km) south-southeast of Chama, 21 miles (34 km) north of Abiqui, and 45 miles west of Taos, New Mexico. Below is a seismogram of the earthquake as it was recorded by New Mexico Tech at station MLM (located at Mesa Lucero -- see map).

On the USGS map below on the left, the preliminary earthquake location is shown as a red dot. The USGS map on the right shows the intensity of the earthquake as it was felt by people in the area. It indicates light shaking in the Chama area and moderate shaking around Abiqui. (Click here to report if you felt this earthquake).

Click for details.

-- Jana Stankova-Pursley and Susan Delap, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology


Press Release. 09/12/2007 11:00 am MDT: Earthquake near Reserve, NM

A minor felt earthquake (3.5 USGS) occurred on September 8, 2007 at 1:15:40 am MDT (07:15:40 UTC). The event was located approximately 6 miles (10 km) west-southwest of Reserve, the Catron County seat. The Sherrif's Department in Reserve logged felt reports as far away as Luna (20 miles N) and Apache Creek (15 miles east), as well as reports from the Catron County jail. The event was part of a small swarm that lasted several hours. This is an unusual location, historically, for a felt earthquake, although a swarm of felt earthquakes estimated to be as large as 4.5 occurred inthe Glenwood Springs, NM region in 1938-1939.

Location: 33.673°N, 108.858°W (uncertainty of 10 km)
Depth: shallow (not constrained due to the lack of nearby seismic stations).

SMC_SeismogramSocorro Seismic Network station SMC record (MDT time at left, UTC at right).

Catron_Earthquake_Map Map c/o USGS NEIC


 

Press Release. 05/23/2007 7:55 am MDT: Earthquake near Socorro
Video Interview with Dr. Sue Bilek (37 MB or 11 MB)

A minor but widely felt earthquake of local duration magnitude 2.9 (3.3 USGS) occurred on May 22, 2007 at 11:16:55 pm MDT (05:16:55 UTC). The event was located 8 miles (12.8 km) directly west of Socorro, New Mexico, in the general vicinity of the last broadly felt Socorro earthquake of 10/29/05, but is located several km further west. The earthquake occurred at approximately 3.7 miles (6 km) depth.

Latitude: 34.0615

Longitude: -107.0295

Depth: 6.06 km

Origin Time: 2007/05/23 05:16:54.89 GMT

Main event and associated swarm events recorded at station LEM near Lemitar, NM.

John Morton, Rick Aster, Susan Bilek, Kyle Jones, Jana Stankova, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Geophysics Program


Press Release. 12/19/2005 4:00 pm MST: Earthquake near Carlsbad, New Mexico

 

A minor earthquake occurred in southeast New Mexico on December 19, 2005 at 20:27:39 UTC (13:27:39 MST). The magnitude 3.8 earthquake was located at 32 degrees 38.29 minutes N and 104 degrees 36.26 minutes W, which is approximately 25 miles WNW of Carlsbad. The quake was felt in Roswell, Artesia and Carlsbad. We have received no reports of damage at this time

This earthquake is located near the Dagger Draw oil field. This area has been experiencing repeated seismicity since the late 1990's, most likely as a result of water injection practices associated with oil production.

The USGS website for this earthquake can be found at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqinthenews/2005/usgva8/

Below is an image of the pseudohelicorder recording from station DAG for Monday, December 19, 2005, showing the mainshock (largest event in red) and associated foreshocks and aftershocks.

Tara Mayeau, Rick Aster, Allan Sanford, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Geophysics Program


Press Release. 10/29/2005 11:16 pm MDT: Earthquake near Socorro, New Mexico

A minor earthquake occurred tonight at 8:57:35 pm MDT (2:57:35 UTC) with a magnitude of 2.4. The quake was centered at 34.06 N and 106.96 W, approximately 5.4 km (3.4 miles) due west of Socorro, New Mexico. The quake had a depth of approximately 7 km (4.6 miles). Earthquakes of this magnitude are rarely felt; however, there were numerous felt reports from Socorro area residents due to the quake's shallowness and proximity to the city.

The US Geological Survey location for this event, obtained using a different suite of stations, is within 3 km of the NMT location. It can be found at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/recenteqsUS/Quakes/usevae.htm

Below is a map of the earthquake epicenter relative to several local cities, a digital helicorder display showing the earthquake and its small foreshocks and aftershocks, and a digital photograph of the auxiliary backup helicorder seismogram from the Woods Tunnel Seismic Station.

This earthquake occurred within the Socorro Seismic Anomaly, a region of above average seismicity centered north of Socorro, New Mexico. Seismicity in this area is associated with the ongoing slow inflation of a thin magma body at approximately 19 km (12 miles) depth beneath the region.

Rick Aster, Kyle Jones, Tara Mayeau, Jana Stankova, John Morton, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Geophysics Program


Press Release. 08/11/2005 2:15 pm MDT: Aftershocks to August 10, 2005 Raton Earthquake

The largest aftershock to this point occurred on 08/10/2005 at approximately 4:24:32 pm MDT with a magnitude of 2.5 (duration magnitude). This aftershock was located at 36.95N latitude and 104.70W longitude.

Another aftershock:
Time: 2005/08/11 04:00:59 (UTC) (22:00:59 MDT)
Preliminary location: 36.91N, 105.02W
Md: 2.0

-- Sue Bilek, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Geophysics Program


Press Release. 8/10/2005 4:50 pm: Earthquake near Raton, New Mexico

This afternoon at approximately 4:08:17 pm MDT an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.9 occurred approximately 60 km northwest of Raton, New Mexico, near the New Mexico-Colorado border. A shallow earthquake of this magnitude is capable of causing light
damage to property. We have received no reports of damage at this time.

Shown below are the US Geological Survey location and a recording of the vertical ground velocity from the New Mexico Tech Seismographic Network at a station located near Socorro, New Mexico.

If you would like to report feeling the earthquake to a national database, click here.

This is the largest in a sequence of earthquakes along an unusually active trend of seismicity n the Raton, New Mexico-Trinidad Colorado region during the past several years. New Mexico Tech has located over 50 earthquake in this area with magnitudes greater than or equal to 2.0 in the past 18 months.

At this time this appears to be the largest earthquake to occur within the borders of New Mexico for over 13 years (at least since
the Rattlesnake Canyon Earthquake near Eunice on January 2, 1992). For a discussion of the larger historical earthquakes of New Mexico, click here.

-- Rick Aster, Allan Sanford, Susan Bilek, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Geophysics Program


Press Release. 12/27/2004 12:00 pm: Update on the Andaman-Nicobar Islands Earthquake of December 26, 2004

This moment magnitude 9.0 earthquake was the largest seismic event on Earth for the past 40 years, and the resulting tsunami produced one of the greatest natural disasters of the past 100 years. This earthquake was recorded by every operating seismic station on the planet. In New Mexico, recordings were made by New Mexico Tech, Los Alamos, and the US Geological Survey. The following plots show the signals from the earthquake recorded near Socorro. Seismologists around the world will be analyzing the records of this extraordinary event for many years to come to better understand the physics and geology of megathrust earthquakes, tsunami generation, and the deep structure of the Earth.

For more information, see the USGS site

-- Rick Aster, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Geophysics Program

Above is a 24-hour seismic monitor record showing the great earthquake of December 26, 2004, recorded at NMT's Carthage, NM, station. The highest-amplitude signals (which are seismic surface waves) were noticeably squared off (clipped) by the display program for this earthquake, even though it was more than 15,000 km away.

Above is a 3-component, 6-hour displacement seismogram recorded by EarthScope station Y22C located near the PASSCAL Instrument Center at New Mexico Tech (120 s STS-2 seismometer). The displacement of the Earth's surface in New Mexico was greater than 1 cm from this event.


Press Release. 05/26/2004 8:15 am MDT, Update on May 24 Bernardo Earthquake:

We have had a few aftershocks, all in roughly the same location, ranging in magnitude from 1.2-1.5 md (total of 4 aftershocks located).
-- Sue Bilek, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Geophysics Program


Press Release. 05/24/2004 5:00 pm MDT, NMT Seismological ObservatoryMay 24, 2004 -- A small earthquake (magnitude 2.9 md) occurred near Bernardo, New Mexico, at approximately 3:36 PM local time. There have been several felt reports in the Bernardo, Veguita, and Belen areas. A small foreshock, magnitude 1.2 md, occurred approximately 2 hours earlier. These earthquakes were detected by instruments operated by the New Mexico Tech Geophysics Program and US Geological Survey.

May 24, 2004 quakes as seen from NMT's Lemitar, NM, station

The above picture shows the main earthquake (in blue) as recorded at NMT's Lemitar, NM, station. (See stations map page for station locations.) The location information for the main earthquake is:
 
Day Time (UTC) Latitude Longitude Magnitude (md)*
24 21:36:28.3 34.47N 106.877W 2.9
*md refers to the local earthquake magnitude used for New Mexico. More on different magnitude scales.

To learn more about earthquakes in New Mexico and view earthquakes recorded by the New Mexico Tech network, visit the links at www.ees.nmt.edu/Geop/NM_Seismology.html. In addition, if you felt the earthquake, you can provide a report of your experience at the US Geological Survey Did you feel it? site. This information is used to provide estimates of shaking intensity from earthquakes using community based responses.

Susan Bilek and John Schlue, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Geophysics Program


Press Release. NMT Seismological Observatory Press Release:  05/24/2004 11:30 am MDT

On May 23, 2004, 3 small earthquakes occurred in southern New Mexico, approximately 21 km (13 miles) northwest of Carlsbad. These events were detected by instruments operated by the New Mexico Tech Geophysics Program, and have produced several felt reports from the area.

May 23 quakes as seen from NMT's Dagger Draw, NM, station

The above picture shows all three quakes as viewed from NMT's Dagger Draw, NM, station. (See stations map page for station locations.) The times and locations of these events are :
 
Day Time (UTC) Latitude Longitude Magnitude (md)*
23 09:22:04 32.58N 104.62W 3.9
23 12:09:49 32.58N 104.61W 2.0
23 14:00:00 32.58N 104.61W 1.8
*md refers to the local earthquake magnitude used for New Mexico. More on different magnitude scales.

The public is invited to learn more about earthquakes in New Mexico and view seismicity recorded by the New Mexico Tech network at www.ees.nmt.edu/Geop/NM_Seismology.html. In addition, if you felt the earthquake, you can provide a report of your experience at the US Geological Survey Did you feel it? site. This information is used to provide estimates of shaking intensity from earthquakes using community-based responses.

Susan Bilek and John Schlue, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Geophysics Program


NMT Seismological Observatory Press Release: 03/02/04 10:00 am MST

Beginning on February 27th, the NMT Seismological Observatory recorded a sequence of small earthquakes in Northern Socorro County and has fielded reports that several of these have been felt in the La Joya area. The largest of these events had a magnitude of 1.9 and occurred at approximately 12:17:30 PM MST on February 29th. As of 10:00 AM on March 2, there have been approximately 15 events up to this size associated with an epicentral area approximately 2.5 miles north of the Walking Sands rest stop on Interstate 25, and approximately 1 mile east of the Interstate. Such swarms have been observed many times in the region during the past several decades, and there is no reason to believe that they presage larger shocks. Swarms of earthquakes in the Socorro region are related to the presence of a deep (12 miles) slowly inflating (approximately 1 tenth of an inch per year) magma body that underlies the Rio Grande Rift in this part of New Mexico. The general public is invited to learn more about Earthquakes in New Mexico and can view seismicity recorded by the New Mexico Tech network at www.ees.nmt.edu/Geop/NM_Seismology.html.

Rick Aster and John Schlue, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Geophysics Program


NMT Seismological Observatory Press Release: 05/23/03 5:30 pm MDT

At least six small earthquakes with epicenters approximately 50 km SE of Albuquerque have occurred during the past two days, as detected by instruments operated by the New Mexico Tech Geophysics Program and the United States Geological Survey. The closest community is Estancia, NM. The times and locations of the three largest events are:
 
 
Day Time (UTC) Latitude Longitude Magnitude (md)*
22 15:39:40 34d 47m 106d 08m 1.0
22 22:24:53 34d 45m 106d 01m 1.8
23 12:59:23 34d 44m 106d 00m 2.2
*md refers to the local earthquake magnitude used for New Mexico. More on different magnitude scales.

The largest of these events was reported as felt in the East Mountains and was weakly detected by instruments as far away as Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona. This group of earthquakes is located approximately 10 km northwest of the locations of the Willard, New Mexico events of December, 1997-January 1998, which included a widely felt event of magnitude 3.8 on January 4, 1998.

Rick Aster and John Schlue, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Geophysics Program


Continuing Seismicity in Southeastern New Mexico, September 20, 2002

On September 17, 2002, earthquakes of magnitude 3.4 and 3.2 occurred at 9:45 AM (MDT) and 5:34 PM (MDT) at an isolated location 27 miles northwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico. The epicenters of these two quakes, 32.58 degrees North latitude and 104.63 degrees West longitude, fall within a small region that has been producing quakes since January of 1997. To date 30 earthquakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater have occurred within this approximately 6 square mile area located 16 miles south of the village of Hope. The strongest earthquake of this sequence had a magnitude of 4.0 on March 14, 1999. At this time it is believed that these earthquakes may be induced by injection of waste water from natural gas production into a deep well or wells.

Allan Sanford


Recent Earthquakes in Southern Colorado 2001-2002

Information on the recent earthquake swarm in southern Colorado near Trinidad can be found at the US Geological Survey web site http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/special/colorado.html.


Natural Gas Pipeline Explosion, August 19, 2000 at 05:26:28 MDT

The WIPP seismograph Network recorded signals from the pipeline explosion at all seven of its stations. However, all signals recorded were sonic rather than seismic, that is, they traveled through the air rather than the ground. The best recording of this event was at station CL2B located about 23 km NNE. The first signal received at this station was a weak short duration pulse followed by a 24 second period of very weak oscillations. At the end of the 24 second period the largest of the sonic pulses occurred followed by strong continuous noise that persisted until the pipeline was shut down a little less than one hour later. A sonic pulse about twice the strength of the continuous noise was recorded about 17 seconds after the largest signal. Using a velocity of 335 m/sec and a distance of 23 km, we obtained the following origin times for the three sonic pulses based on arrival times at station CL2B.

First 05:26:28 MDT Weak
Second 05:26:52 MDT Strong
Third 05:27:10 MDT Moderate

We speculate that the first sonic pulse is the initial rupture of the gas pipeline. The second is the ignition of the gas and possibly further rupture of the pipeline. The third might also be further rupture.

Allan Sanford, Kuo-wan Lin, Rick Aster

See the New Mexico Tech/University of Arizona web page on this event and stories in the Albuquerque Journal (requires subscription) for more information. The ABQ Journal story originally called "106090news08-23-00.htm" may be of most interest.


NMT Seismological Observatory Press Release: 04/7/98 11:00 am MST

CONTINUED MINOR EARTHQUAKE ACTIVITY DETECTED IN NORTHERN SOCORRO COUNTY SAN ACACIA, N.M. -- Several residents of Lemitar and Escondida felt an earthquake around 06:21 pm Monday evening, April 6. The NMT Seismological Observatory recordings placed the epicenter near Lemitar with a magnitude of 1.9. Numerous earthquakes have been recorded in the same area before April 6 including a slightly stronger earthquake with a magnitude of 2.0 at 11:25 pm on March 24. No felt reports were received for this earthquake.


NMT Press Release: 03/24/98 9:00 pm MST

MINOR EARTHQUAKE ACTIVITY DETECTED IN NORTHERN SOCORRO COUNTY SAN ACACIA, N.M. -- A series of minor earthquakes measuring between magnitudes 2.1 and less than 1 occurred Sunday night, March 22, through Monday, March 23, near the northern Socorro County communities of San Acacia and Alamillo, located about 11 miles north of Socorro.

Seismologists at New Mexico Tech in Socorro recorded the earthquake activity on the university's network of seismic stations and fielded felt reports from the largest tremor from San Acacia area residents. Preliminary analyses of the quakes show the epicenter to be about three and a half miles west of San Acacia, near San Lorenzo Arroyo.

The first earthquake, which registered at magnitude 2.1, occurred at 10:03:46.8 p.m. This strongest temblor was then followed by a swarm of at least 10 smaller earthquakes, all measuring less than magnitude 1 and too small to be felt. "The first earthquake was felt because it was fairly large and because its source was shallow--only approximately 2.5 kilometers or 1.6 miles deep," says Richard C. Aster, associate professor of geophysics and research geophysics at New Mexico Tech.

Historical and recent records of New Mexico earthquakes show that, although the area along the Rio Grande from Socorro north to Bernardo occupies only two percent of the total area of the state, it accounts for about 45 percent of all of New Mexico's earthquake activity. Seismic records also show that the earthquake activity in the area is often dominated by swarms of temblors lasting days or weeks, some strong enough to be felt.

Aster explains that the relatively high earthquake activity in the Socorro area, an area that seismologists refer to as the "Socorro seismic anomaly" is probably attributable to the ongoing inflation of a mostly thin, yet extensive, horizontal layer of molten rock, the "Socorro magma body," residing about 12 miles below the middle Rio Grande valley, between Socorro and Bernardo.
(George Zamora)


NMT Seismological Observatory Press Release: 03/23/98 2:00 pm MST

Several residents of San Acacia felt a local earthquake around 10:05 pm Sunday evening, March 22. The NMT Seismological Observatory has recorded a small swarm of approximately 10 earthquakes with epicenters near San Lorenzo Arroyo since then, with the first (10:03:46.8 pm MST) and largest having a magnitude of 2.1. This first earthquake was felt because it was fairly large and because its source was shallow (only approximately 2.5 km or 1.6 miles deep). All of the other events in this swarm so far have been much smaller (less than about magnitude 1).


Willard Swarm Information

The Willard Swarm earthquakes of 1997-1998 (maximum magnitude 3.8), while widely felt, were not especially large by New Mexico standards.

Earthquake seismograms from the Willard Swarm recorded in Albuquerque are now available at the USGS Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory web page.

For general New Mexico earthquake information, see the New Mexico Bureau of Geology Mineral Museum Display: Seismology In New Mexico


NMT Press Release: 1/5/1998

NEW MEXICO EARTHQUAKE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ON "THE WEB" SOCORRO -- The New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources (NMBG&MR), a research division of New Mexico Tech, has a website available on the Internet, which contains extensive information about New Mexico earthquakes.

Mainly designed in a non-technical manner for interested laypersons, the NMBG&MR earthquake education and resources site contains an explanation of the Richter scale, a history and epicenter map of past earthquakes in New Mexico, earthquake preparedness instructions, and links to additional earthquake information on the web. The website's URL address is at http://tremor.nmt.edu.

New Mexico has a long history of earthquakes including a famous 1906 event in the Socorro area, which was estimated to be greater than magnitude 6.0, a magnitude 5.5 earthquake near Dulce in 1966, and a swarm of 34 earthquakes between magnitude 2.0 and 4.7 in the Bernardo area during 1989.

Paleoseismic studies, in which geologists dig trenches across known faults to examine displaced strata, have also provided evidence of large prehistoric earthquakes within the boundaries of modern-day New Mexico.

Most recently, over the past few weeks, several earthquakes with magnitudes as large as 3.8 have been felt in central New Mexico, between Mountainair and Willard.

The Geophysics group at New Mexico Tech, which operates the New Mexico Tech Seismic Observatory, also has posted a related website which focuses specifically on recent earthquake activity in New Mexico. The site address is http://www.ees.nmt.edu/Geop/recentquakes.html.

There are records of 1,111 seismic events felt in New Mexico between 1849 and 1975, including three caused by atomic bomb explosions in 1945, 1961, and 1967.

Some earthquakes which occurred in southeastern New Mexico are thought to be related to oil and gas production; and a series of small earthquakes recorded near Heron and El Vado reservoirs in northern New Mexico were caused by the weight of the water in the reservoirs.

Most of New Mexico's earthquakes, however, are caused by naturally occurring tectonic forces within the Earth's crust.

Development of the NMBG&MR earthquake information web site is being funded by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), administered through the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, with state matching funds from the NMBG&MR.

The NMBG&MR is the state agency responsible for investigating and disseminating information about the geology and mineral resources of New Mexico. -NMT- Bill Haneberg


NMT Seismological Observatory Press Release: 01/04/98 1:00 pm MST

The strongest earthquake to date in the ongoing Willard swarm occurred this morning at 01:05:32 am and measured 3.8 on the NMT duration magnitude scale. The epicenter of the event (34 deg 32.13 N 106 7.71 W) was within a few km of previous event epicenters observed in this area since 12/23/97 (approximately 100 to date), including the strong triple event at 6:28:27 am MST which had an NM Tech duration magnitude of approximately 3.0.

Earthquakes of this size are not especially rare in New Mexico, occurring at irregular intervals of several years.

Comparably-sized or larger earthquakes remain possible in this swarm

Rick Aster, Allan Sanford, and Kuo-wan Lin
New Mexico Tech Geophysics Program


NMT Seismological Observatory Press Release: 12/31/97 11:00 a.m. MST

This morning's earthquakes were centered approximately 10 km NE of Mountainair, NM (it appears to be centered near 34 deg 35.791 min N, 106 deg 10.267 min W). The largest earthquake occurred at 6:28:27 am MST and had an NM Tech duration magnitude of approximately 3.0.

Note that these earthquakes were rather distant from the NMT network, and these locations should be taken as preliminary.

The largest earthquake was followed shortly by two nearly colocated earthquakes of slightly smaller magnitude at approximately 6:32 and 6:34 am. All of these earthquakes are members of a swarm of generally much smaller earthquakes (more than 30 identified so far) in this area that was observed by the NMT Seismological Observatory to start on 12/23/97.

Rick Aster and Kuo-wan Lin
New Mexico Tech Geophysics Program



For more information on New Mexico Earthquakes, contact Dr. Rick Aster at aster@nmt.edu
 
EES Home | Geology/Geochemistry | Hydrology | Geophysics | Site Map | Search

Last Updated: May 23, 2007