Seis­mic boom

The Ok­la­homa Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey has added seis­mic mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions.

The Oklahoman - - FRONT PAGE - BY JACK MONEY Busi­ness Writer [email protected]

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

is to­day.

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 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.


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