5.3 magnitude earthquake rocks West Texas, with reports of shaking all the way to Austin

The epicenter of Wednesday’s quake was about 35 miles northwest of Pecos, south of the New Mexico border, and likely was caused by oil and gas activity in the area.


A 5.3 magnitude earthquake in West Texas on Wednesday could be felt across a significant portion of the state.

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 (USGS) said it has received reports of shaking in Austin.

The magnitude 5.3 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 p.m.. 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.