Small Earthquake Shakes Socorro

SOCORRO, N.M. August 21, 2009 – Socorro was jolted by a shallow magnitude 2.3 earthquake at 7:57 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19, according to New Mexico Tech Earth scientists.

Dr. Rick Aster, geophysics professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, said the quake occurred just 4 miles below the surface.

“That’s why it was felt so strongly in the immediate Socorro area even though it was a tiny earthquake,” Aster said. “It also created a loud boom that was heard throughout the area.”

Within a couple hours after this event, two aftershocks smaller than magnitude 1.0 had occurred, according to seismic technician Jana Stankova-Pursley.

The quake occurred just to the east of the Rio Grande about three miles northeast of the center of Socorro. The quake occurred above the Socorro Magma Body, a thin lens of molten rock located about 12 miles below the surface between Socorro and Belen area, Aster said. The earthquake appears to be similar to hundreds of such quakes that have been documented in the area during the past several decades.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech