Snyder's earthquakes may be caused by proximity to fault line

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Sunday's 4.4 magnitude earthquake in Snyder was the strongest the town has felt since the late 1970's, but there have been several smaller quakes there in the past two years.

Earthquakes in Snyder seem to be occurring more frequently now than ever before.

The town lies along highway 84 in between Lubbock and Sweetwater, but Texas Tech geosciences professor Dr. Harold Gurrola says it also lies along a fault line that formed millions of years ago.

"The ones [earthquakes] near Snyder are very close to a fault system called the Llano Front and the Llano Front is where some other piece of continent crashed into North America and caused deformation there," Gurrola said.

Gurrola showed us a map of the fault line that you can see in our video on our page. Snyder lies very close to the Llano Front.

The United States Geological Survey recorded data from Sunday's quake and Gurrola says diagrams show it was most likely caused by horizontal movement along the fault.

"Strike slip means the rocks passed horizontally across each other not vertically," Gurrola said.

If the quake was caused by vertical movement it could have been from oil drilling, but Gurrola doubts that was the case Sunday because it was more than 6 miles below the surface; usually too deep for drilling.

Gurrola showed us a Google map with plenty of oil fields near Snyder's recent quakes.

He said he couldn't rule out the possibility of drilling impacting previous seismic activity but the map showed very few operations near Sunday's incident.

"This one to me seems like it has to be on the Llano fault system," said Gurrola.

Gurrola says based on history, earthquakes will probably continue in Snyder but there's no precedent to suggest they will get any worse.

©2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.