Minor Earthquake Detected near Socorro

by George Zamora

SOCORRO, N.M., May 23, 2007 – A minor earthquake occurred last night, May 22, near the central New Mexico town of Socorro, measuring at local duration magnitude 2.9 at almost 11:17 p.m.

(See the seismic record of the earthquake.)

Seismologists at New Mexico Tech in Socorro recorded the earthquake activity on the university's array of seismic stations located throughout the state, and determined that the epicenter was located eight miles directly west of Socorro at a depth of 3.7 miles in the same vicinity of the last broadly felt earthquake in the area on October 29, 2005.

Newsrooms at Albuquerque television stations fielded felt reports about the tremor from several Socorro residents.

"The quake was not unusual given the historic record for this region, and is part of an ongoing swarm of activity,” said Rick Aster, a geophysics professor at New Mexico Tech. "Earthquakes of this magnitude are expected to occur every year or so in the Socorro vicinity, and events occurring this close to the populated Rio Grande corridor will be widely felt, even for small magnitudes."

The central Socorro County region from Socorro north to Bernardo is historically the most seismically active portion of New Mexico, largely due to the presence of a mid-crustal magma body located about 12 miles beneath the Rio Grande rift.