A major earthquake-monitoring network is up and running across Texas.
Thanks to an interactive website hosted by TexNet, you can now see where quakes are happening and learn about them in real time. The tool could be useful for the growing number of people who’ve felt earthquakes here.
Experts say wastewater injection from fracking and oil production is to blame for the increase in earthquakes, but there’s still a lot they’d like to learn.
The monitoring system, made up of the 40 permanent and 40 mobile seismic-monitoring stations, provides a new level of detail and sensitivity in recording the earth's shaking. It’s controlled by UT’s Bureau of Economic Geology and was made possible by funds from the state Legislature.
“We want to ultimately be able to look at the geology, the oil and gas activity, and be able to better understand where earthquakes may happen or where we should avoid these activities because there’s more likelihood of these earthquakes,” said Ellen Rathje, a professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at UT-Austin.
The website shows you where earthquakes have happened, their strength and their depth, along with the locations of TexNet monitors.
Rathje, one of the people in charge of the project, says the network has already provided some interesting information.
“We’ve seen an increase in seismicity out in West Texas, near the city of Pecos,” she said. “That’s where we're focusing our efforts in the near future – trying to understand these events and all the oil and gas activities that are happening out there in the Permian Basin.”
Researchers say the data can also inform seismic hazard and risk assessments for parts of Texas. Those risk assessments can influence everything from building codes to insurance costs in some quake-prone areas.