Some parts of San Antonio felt tremors from a 5.4 magnitude earthquake Wednesday afternoon that originated near the West Texas community of Mentone.
San Antonio College evacuated several campus buildings and even canceled classes after the shaking “out of an abundance of caution.”
The U.S. Geological Survey’s website, which lists all quakes above 2.5 magnitude over the past day, reported the quake’s epicenter 37 kilometers west-southwest of Mentone, an unincorporated community in Loving County near the New Mexico border.
A number of smaller aftershocks were reported in the hours following the larger quake, according to USGS.
Earthquake activity in the region “has picked up significantly since 2020,” said Jana Pursley, a geophysicist with the USGS. She said the agency’s research has found that wastewater injections related to fracking — the method used by the energy industry to extract oil and gas by injecting water and sand into the ground — have increased earthquake activity in Texas, as well as other parts of the country like Oklahoma and Colorado.
She said she did not know what may have caused this particular quake, which appears to be the largest earthquake in the area to date.
“There was a 5.0 in 2020, and a couple 4.6’s and one 4.9, so I believe you could have felt it in San Antonio,” Pursley said.
The USGS website includes a Did You Feel It? link for each earthquake, allowing those who felt it to report specific details such as where they were, how they would describe the shaking and how they reacted.
At least three reports from San Antonio were filed as of 4:20 p.m., joining at least three from Austin. One report came from Pleasanton, in Northern California.
Joey Palacios, a reporter with Texas Public Radio, tweeted at 3:38 p.m., “Did … y’all just feel the ground shaking in downtown San Antonio? I’m at TPR and it felt like our building was shaking. Whole newsroom felt it. Maybe it was construction?”
Among the joking responses, dozens of San Antonians from around the city replied that they felt it, from as far away as USAA’s headquarters and the South Texas Medical Center.
Twitter user Rico replied with a link to earthquaketrack.com that showed the area around Mentone had seen 34 earthquakes in the past seven days.
San Antonio College sent out a text and phone alert at 4:06: “Please avoid the Chance Academic Center and Moody Learning Center and Scobbe Planetarium until further notice.”
Minutes later, the school announced it was canceling classes for the rest of the rest of the day.
At the Moody Learning Center, campus personnel on the fifth floor felt the shaking, and somebody on the seventh floor said they saw furniture moving due to the quake, according to Ken Slavin, SAC’s director of marketing and strategic communications.
“It was four or five buildings, so the decision was made to get everybody out,” Slavin explained. “People were definitely feeling it in the buildings, but not all of them. And I don’t think that’s unusual with earthquake activity, it’s almost like with a tornado, one building can be demolished, and the house next door is fine.”
Bryan Nguyen, a computer science major at SAC was waiting for his class to start at the Student Advocacy Center when someone entered the building and told him everyone had to evacuate.
He said he received an alert advising everyone to avoid the Moody Learning Center, Fletcher Administration Center, Chance Academic Center and the Scobee Planetarium.
I just felt confused,” Nguyen said. “I was like, there’s no earthquake whatsoever, but apparently there was.”
Facilities management at SAC inspected the buildings on campus later Wednesday and cleared them to open in time for the next day’s classes.