Tracking Tremors Across Texas
Trusted for the validity of its wide-ranging research and its broad capacity to undertake and successfully coordinate significant, multifaceted initiatives, the Bureau of Economic Geology was authorized by the Texas governor and the state legislature to deploy and operate TexNet, the most advanced state-run seismic-monitoring system in the country.
In 2017, the Bureau finished installing TexNet and now, thanks to a new interactive website, the public can follow and sort Texas seismic activity in real time.
TexNet includes 22 permanent monitoring stations, which brings the state’s total number of permanent seismic stations to 40. A team led by Bureau research scientist Alexandros Savvaidis managed the design, installation, and testing of the statewide network. The system also includes 40 portable seismic stations that are being used to increase the density of stations in areas with recent increased seismicity, such as the Dallas–Fort Worth area, South Texas, the Delaware Basin, and the Snyder area of West Texas.
These portable stations allow for detailed examination of the location, depth, size, and frequency of earthquakes so scientists and engineers can better assess their causes. The seismic-monitoring system is being operated in parallel with the Center for Integrated Seismicity Research (CISR), a multidisciplinary research team led by Bureau research scientists Peter Hennings and Ellen Rathje. CISR conducts fundamental research to better understand natural and induced earthquakes in Texas.
“Governor Abbott and the Legislature have put Texas at the forefront of data collection and research into the causes of seismicity in the state,” said Bureau director Scott W. Tinker, who led the formation of TexNet in 2015. “Small earthquake events have become more common in Texas recently, and we are now positioned to learn more about them and, hopefully, to understand how to mitigate their impacts in the future.”