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Seismologist says Trinidad earthquakes are tied to oil and gas production

TRINIDAD, Colo. (KRDO) -- A 3.8 magnitude earthquake hit near the Colorado/New Mexico border early Sunday morning, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The earthquake hit around 5 a.m., with small shock waves felt all the way out to Monte Vista.

Anne Sheehan, a seismologist and professor of geolocial sciences at University of Colorado at Boulder, said scholars believe these earthquakes are tied to oil and gas production.

March 9, a 4.3 magnitude earthquake hit Las Animas County. Sunday morning around 5:00 a.m., just ten days later, the 3.8 magnitude earthquake hit.

David Cole, a Trinidad resident, said he felt the shakes vividly.

"The fan in my room was shaken and I could hear the house popping and cracking," said Cole. "You could feel it from the south end of the house, go to the north And it was it was a pretty violent shake."

Cole said the earthquakes are causing him to question what could happen next.

"Can they get bigger? I don't know. But that's something I think that should be shared."

Sheehan said the root cause of Trinidad's earthquakes tie back to oil and gas production through wastewater.

"Trinidad is on the eastern edge of the Raton Basin," said Sheehan, "and it's a place that has a lot of oil and gas production."

According to Sheehan, the process of pulling oil and gas out of the ground creates waste water filled with pollutants.

"And so the way that it's typically disposed of is is injecting it back into the ground," said Sheehan.

However, the injections of waste water are causing movement underground, which lead to earthquakes.

"That can essentially lubricate the faults, and it's very common to get earthquakes related to wastewater disposal."

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Riley Carroll

Riley is a weekend anchor and reporter for KRDO. Learn more about her here.

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Annabelle Childers

Annabelle is a reporter for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about her here.


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