Texas Earthquake-Monitoring System Installation Complete
WESLACO – You will now be able to track the frequency and intensity of earthquake activity across the state in real time.
Even though earthquakes don't happen often in Texas on a big scale, researchers said they’re noticing tremors and minor quakes taking place more frequently.
The University of Texas at Austin wants to get ahead of the changing pattern to figure what's causing it. Staff finished installing an earthquake monitoring system last week.
The system is made up of 80 stations throughout the state; half permanent, half portable.
Research scientist with the Bureau of Economic Geology at the UT Austin Peter Hennings said the stations are all tied together through the system called TexNet.
“Now we have this website tool where people can go to look at earthquakes in Texas, investigate where they are happening and when,” he said. “And if you're interested or you're a researcher then you can download the data for your own use.”
Hennings said the stations run detailed data including locations, depth, size, and frequency of the earthquakes.
He said the grid is the first step in answering many unknowns causing the dangerous uphill trend.
“Understanding whether they're from natural causes or human-induced is a very important topic in geoscience in geology,” he said. “We're going to learn a lot about what causes earthquakes in the first place. We're going to learn if there are cases where human-induced earthquakes have occurred."
Hennings refers to the deep disposal of wastewater generated from oil and natural gas wells. He said when obtaining oil and gas, water is often co-produced.
The water that rises to the surface needs to be disposed of using an injection well.
Researchers analyzing the data want to figure out how many tremors are happening due to natural causes and how many are linked to oil production. They hope the system answers the question "why" behind the quakes and helps them figure out how to mitigate the trend.
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