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Quakes shaking up New Mexico

Has oil and gas drilling claimed another state as an earthquake victim? Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey have linked the quakes in Kansas and Oklahoma to oil and gas activity, but KRQE reports fossil fuel development may be to blame several small quakes near Raton and Dagger Draw in New Mexico.

“[There have] been very intense reviews of the models and earthquakes over the past couple years for the USGS,” Geophysicist Robert Williams told KRQE. “Most of them that people are feeling are magnitudes 2.5 and greater range.”

Researchers have linked earthquakes to man-made sources for years, but they attribute recent spikes in seismic activity to wastewater injection, which they say loosens faults in the ground. The largest of these man-made quakes, they say, hit a magnitude of 5.2 in 2011 near the Colorado state line.

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

Researchers believe the state’s quakes will increase along with its oil and gas industry. Representatives from the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association told KRQE that, while the issue of earthquakes is important, much of the state’s economy relies on the industry.

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