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'Record-breaking' earthquake rattles south Texas

October 20, 2011 |  2:33 pm

  San_antonio

A 4.8 earthquake is certainly attention-getting, if not catastrophic. In southern Texas, it's also record-breaking -- and one happened there early Thursday morning.

The epicenter of the quake was near rural Karnes County, 47 miles southwest of San Antonio. The quake struck at 7:24 a.m. local time, and was the largest earthquake on record for the area, surpassing a magnitude-4.3 shock recorded in 1993, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In an interview with The Times, USGS geophysicist Don Blakeman said that southern Texas has been experiencing small earthquakes since the 1970s, and that 14 quakes between 2.6 and 3.4 magnitudes have been recorded since 1982.

But Thursday morning's quake was significantly larger.

"It is a bit unusual," he said.

Blakeman also said it is impossible to predict if there will be any aftershocks.  The quake was both big enough to produce some small aftershocks, and small enough that they wouldn't necessarily be expected.

As for what the quake felt like, Glynda Martinez, an associate municipal judge in Karnes City, told the Associated Press that she thought a strong gust of wind -- or a passing tractor-trailer -- was responsible for the rattling dishes in her kitchen.

The quake was enough to spook some people in San Antonio. The Associated Press reports small vibrations felt in San Antonio did cause occupants to briefly evacuate a downtown federal building as a precaution.

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-- Deborah Netburn

Image: San Antonio is more used to sun than earthquakes. Here, a vendor near the Alamo opens an umbrella to provide protection from the brightness in San Antonio this summer. Credit: Eric Gay / Associated Press

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