The Oklahoma Geological Survey has added seismic monitoring stations.
Thirty years ago, you could count the number of seismic monitoring stations operated by the Oklahoma Geological Survey using the fingers on one hand.
Now, the survey operates a network of 26 permanent stations, 69 temporary stations and also uses data pulled in from an additional 38 stations that are operated by others.
During that period of growth, characterized by a surge in earthquakes scientists have attributed to oil and gas operations, survey officials have worked hard to improve the quality of data they gather and analyze.
Their work has paid off. Jake Walter, the survey's state seismologist, said the survey has becomea partner of the Advanced National Seismic System, a system that involves the U.S. Geological Survey and researchers from more than a dozen other universities across the country.
The partnership gives the survey access to additional expertise as it continues to improve the work it does to monitor earthquakes in Oklahoma. It also potentially could allow the survey to tap new financial resources as it works to continue to improve its system.
Cecily J. Wolfe, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist who is the coordinator for the advanced seismic network and an associate coordinator for earthquake hazards, global seismographic network and geomagnetism programs, said the network was authorized by Congress in 2000 as part of a national earthquake hazards reduction program.
The network includes thousands of seismic stations that are part of about a dozen regional networks covering Alaska, California, Hawaii, the Intermountain West, the Central and Eastern United States, the Pacific Northwest, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories.
Besides the Oklahoma Geological Survey and USGS network specific programs, other network partners include earthquake monitoring and research programs at universities in Alaska, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Puerto Rico and California.
A paper that assesses the network's current capabilities and future priorities states its mission is to provide accurate and timely data and information on seismic events and their effects on buildings and other types of infrastructure.
It said the network's data applies to public safety in four ways.
The data raises public awareness by providing the public with information after an earthquake. Data collected by the network also helps analyze the likely scope of damage an event causes.
The data supplies researchers with information they can use to assess future earthquake hazards and develop ways to mitigate potential damage those future events might cause, and it provides researchers with data they can use to analyze ways to more safely design buildings and other structures to withstand future events.
While Wolfe said monitoring was ongoing before the network was created, she indicated it wasn’t coordinated as well as it
For the Oklahoma Geological Survey to become a partner, Wolfe said it had to submit materials to federal regulators to show it meets the network’s monitoring standards.
She said the U.S. Geological Survey also visited Oklahoma to evaluate the survey and its operations.
One benefit the survey will enjoy as a network partner, she said, is that data it collects on Oklahoma earthquakes will be automatically posted to the earthquakes.usgs.gov website without a need to be reviewed by peers.
She said the network partnership also will give the survey direct access to information and research from other partners and the ability to share its own through monthly coordination calls and other events.
“The Oklahoma Geological Survey’s membership as a network partner will benefit both it and the larger network,” Wolfe said.
Walter agreed that the survey will benefit through the partnership.
“That’s a big deal, because it opens the door to potential funding in the future to support the state’s efforts, and our whole goal has been to increase the return the state gets on what it has invested to monitor seismic events here,” he said.
Walter said Oklahoma didn’t aggressively begin to upgrade its monitoring system until earthquakes became a major issue about a decade ago. And while Oklahoma’s number of stronger earthquakes have been declining in recent years, he said, it would be nice for researchers to be able to get ahead of the issue by making future improvements to add staff, equipment and technologies that aren’t tied directly to a crisis situation.
“Oklahoma will continue to have seismicity going into the future,” Walter said. “So, pursuing this makes sense because it should help us shore up our longterm ability to go out and catalog these events so they can be shared with everyone.”
Andrew Thiel, a seismic analyst at the Oklahoma Geological Survey, installs a seismometer near Ralston.
STATE SEISMIC MONITORING SYSTEM