How do seismic waves travel?
Just as a rock thrown into a pond generates waves, an earthquake radiates seismic waves through the earth in the same way. Highly sensitive seismometers buried just below the surface record the magnitude and time of even the smallest earthquakes. Combined readings from multiple monitors determine the location and depth of the epicenter with great precision.
When did monitoring begin?
The Oklahoma Geological Survey began earthquake monitoring 40 years ago with its first seismic station in Leonard, Oklahoma. It is still in operation today along with 25 other seismic monitors. The state’s array of monitors is currently undergoing a statewide expansion, which will allow researchers to pinpoint the exact location of seismic activity in real-time and provide the data to analyze exactly what’s happening.
Working together to expand the system.
State regulators, research institutes and industry professionals working together with the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) recently proposed and received a $3.5 million grant to expand the state’s seismic monitoring grid by 72 units. Additional funding will provide continued analysis of the incoming data for the next five years. It’s an unprecedented partnership between the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, the Office of the Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment and the oil and natural gas industry.
A proactive industry steps up.
Oklahoma’s producers are proactive stewards of the environment and are continually investing in solving the state’s unique seismic puzzle. To date, the industry has donated nearly 20,000 miles of fault data, worth $450 million, to the OGS. Several Oklahoma oil and natural gas companies continue to support science-based research through Stanford University’s Center for Seismic and Triggered Seismicity. In addition, companies such as Newfield Exploration has invested millions of dollars in produced water recycling – as a viable alternative to injection well disposal.
Thanks to these ongoing investments geologists, researchers, regulators and producers are now able to better understand the complex relationship between induced and naturally occurring seismicity and Oklahoma’s fault lines. That’s good for continued responsible production, and the revenue our resources provide. And that’s good news for all Oklahomans.
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