TexNet Seismic Monitoring Network

The new TexNet Seismic Monitoring Network is helping to locate and determine the origins of earthquakes in Texas.

Ellen Rathje in New Zealand

Senior Research Scientist Ellen Rathje stands next to evidence of the recent Kaikoura earthquake.

Rathje Helps Document Effects of Kaikoura Earthquake

Ellen Rathje, Senior Research Scientist at the BEG and Professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, travelled to New Zealand to investigate the geologic and geotechnical effects of the 14 November 2016, M 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake.  As part of a reconnaissance team funded by the National Science Foundation through the Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance Association (www.geerassociation.org), Dr. Rathje helped document large-scale, deep-seated landslides and earthquake fault rupture, as well as the interaction between the two.   The data collected by the reconnaissance team will help researchers better evaluate the potential for earthquake-induced landslide hazards.

TexNet Seismic Network Performance and Reported Seismicity in West Texas
Alexandros Savvaidis

Alexandros Savvaidis
Texas Seismological Network Project Manager

In 2015, the Texas State Legislature began funding the Texas Seismological Network (TexNet). Since then, 22 new permanent broadband three-component seismic stations have been added to 17 existing stations operated by various networks [US, N4, IM]. These stations together with 3 auxiliary stations, i.e. long term deployments of 20 sec portable stations, were deployed to provide a baseline of Texas seismicity.

As soon as the deployment of the new permanent stations took place in West Texas, TexNet was able to detect and characterize smaller magnitude events than was possible before, i.e. M < 2.5. As a consequence, additional portable stations were installed in the area in order to better map the current seismicity level. During the different stages of station deployment, we monitored the seismic network performance and its ability to detect earthquake activity. We found that a key limitation to the network performance is industrial noise in West Texas.

Regarding seismicity, the high density portable station deployment close to the earthquake activity minimizes hypo central location uncertainties. In addition, we examined the effects of different crustal velocity models in the area of study on hypo central location using the local network first arrivals. Considerable differences in location were obtained, which shows the importance of local networks and/or reliable crustal velocity models for West Texas. Given the levels of seismicity in West Texas, a plan to continuously monitor the study area is developed.