Is El Paso Earthquake Prone? Franklin Mountain Fault Line Active
El Paso's East Franklin Mountain Fault line is active, which indicates a potential earthquake hazard could occur sometime in the future.
Earthquakes happen every day worldwide, and according to mgs.md.gov, "large earthquakes occur about once a year while smaller earthquakes, such as magnitude two earthquakes, occur several hundred times a day."
So I began to think about El Paso and how prevalent earthquakes are in our area. It turns out that while earthquakes are not uncommon in our area – many small earthquakes and tremblors occur often but are usually too slight to be felt in the area.
In March 2020, an earthquake shook the Big Bend area of west Texas. The quake rattled so many folks that they took to social media to report feeling the tremblor from El Paso to Juarez and even Las Cruces.
It turns out that there are many active fault lines in the El Paso area, especially on the east side of the Franklin mountains. Yes, El Paso sits near an earthquake fault line that runs along the east side of the Franklin Mountains crossing over Transmountain along Alabama Street near NE El Paso.
That same fault is so significant it extends from southern New Mexico, south through Texas along the Franklin Mountains and across the Rio Grande along the southeast margin of the Sierra de Juarez in Chihuahua, Mexico.
And it seems that the East Franklin Mountain Fault is active as the Franklin Mountains continue to rise while the Hueco Bolson sinks, indicating a potential earthquake hazard.
According to museum2.utep.edu, on average, an earthquake in the 3.0 to 4.0 magnitude occurs in El Paso every ten years.
The last quake of these types of earthquakes happened on December 8, 1972, when a magnitude of 3.0 struck Northeast El Paso.
According to the US Geological Survey, if the East Franklin Mountain Fault were to slip, it could potentially trigger a 6.0 or larger magnitude earthquake in our area.
While this is startling, we shouldn't be too stressed over it because geological evidence shows that a major quake occurs along the Franklin Mountains every 5000 years, give or take a few years.
So while we may not see any earthquake activity in El Paso anytime soon, it's always wise to have a preparedness kit that includes emergency food, water, and other essential survival supplies if possible.