The TexNet Seismic Observatory and its research arm, the Center for Integrated Seismicity Research (CISR) at The University of Texas at Austin, is a multidisciplinary, trans-college research center managed by the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG). The overall goals of the TexNet-CISR collaborative are to collect high-quality data on earthquakes in Texas and conduct fundamental and applied research to better understand naturally occurring and potentially induced earthquakes and the associated risks. Our thoroughly integrated research program is studying the subsurface processes that may influence seismicity that will lead to better quantification of the associated hazards and risks to the citizens and infrastructure of Texas. A primary application of the data and research is to improve standards of practice resulting in the mitigation of seismicity that may stem from industrial activity. The highest priority is fact-based communication with stakeholders and rapid response to public concerns regarding seismicity.
The TexNet-CISR collaborative is funded by The State of Texas and a partnership with petroleum upstream and midstream operators. TexNet is funded by a direct budgetary line to the Bureau of Economic Geology through The University of Texas at Austin. This funding line, most recently renewed June 1st, 2019, provides $700,000/yr to develop and operate the TexNet Seismic Observatory which streams near-real-time earthquake data to the TexNet Earthquake Catalog. The State also provides $1,000,000/yr for research on earthquakes in Texas. CISR is currently funded by 19 industrial sponsors and uses this sponsorship to broaden and deepen the research portfolio and to conduct targeted monitoring that is beyond the scope of TexNet.
The principal research goals and activities are to:
- Understand Earthquake Activity
- Understand Causal Factors
- Understand Impacts
- Develop Applications for Mitigation
or detailed information on TexNet-CISR’s research projects please select the Research Projects link to the right. Here is a timeline of TexNet-CISR's emphases since its 2015 inception.
TexNet-CISR also manages the Regional Induced Seismicity Collaborative (RISC). The state geologic surveys of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, and Arkansas, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Ground Water Protection Council, have formed a collaborative research project to address the issues of induced seismicity in the southern midcontinent. RISC will serve as a collaboration platform to facilitate the sharing of effective practices on seismicity monitoring and research. More information about RISC can be found in the link to the right.
The figure below shows the history of earthquakes in key areas of Texas as cataloged by the USGS. The cumulative graph shows the rate of earthquakes of magnitude of 3.0 and higher. The earthquake data shown should be considered as incomplete prior to the early 2000's when the (pre-TexNet) seismic network became effective at the regional scale.
Earthquake Trends in Key Texas Operational Areas
TexNet Earthquake Monitoring
The TexNet Earthquake Monitoring network begin cataloging earthquakes in January of 2017. Although the number of earthquakes detected and cataloged per month often exceeds 300, the vast majority of these earthquakes are very small and not felt at the surface. However, TexNet is frequently detecting somewhat larger earthquakes that are felt at the surface which need to be studied. Please follow the links at the right to access the TexNet Earthquake Catalog and to find out more information about the monitoring program.
The figure below shows the history of earthquakes in key areas of Texas as cataloged by TexNet The cumulative graph shows the rate of earthquakes of magnitude of 1.5 and higher. The earthquake data shown should be considered as strongly impacted by improvements in detectability due to the development of TexNet.
The TexNet-CISR organization is led by Principal Investigators Dr. Peter Hennings, Dr. Ellen Rathje, and Dr. Alexandros Savvaidis. Dr. Savvaidis is the Manager of the TexNet Seismic Observatory and is the PI for seismology. Dr. Rathje is the PI for the principally above-ground topics of earthquake hazard and risk assessment. Dr. Hennings is the PI for aspects of subsurface characterization and integration and is the principal liaison to the petroleum industry and CISR’s industrial partners. Margo Grace is the TexNet-CISR program coordinator.
The research collaboration is broad spanning:
- Texas Bureau of Economic Geology (numerous groups)
- UT Institute for Geophysics
- UT Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering
- UT Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
- Texas A&M Department of Petroleum Engineering
- SMU Department of Earth Sciences
- University of Houston Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
- University of Texas at Dallas Department of Geosciences
- University of Texas at El Paso Department of Geological Sciences
- Stanford Center for Induced and Triggered Seismicity
Research Goals and Themes
The pathways used to advance the principal TexNet-CISR goals as listed above are shown here:
TexNet-CISR Research Pathways
TexNet-CISR will serve the specific geography and geology of Texas, and therefore the research portfolio contains overarching themes as well as geographically-specific phases. Seismicity monitoring began state-wide in 2017 using the backbone array of TexNet seismic stations. Portable seismic stations are deployed in areas of anomalous seismicity such as DFW, northeast of Snyder, Permian Basin, and the Eagle Ford operating area of south Texas. Please visit the TexNet Seismic Observatory site for more details on monitoring.
As per the graphic below, the first geographic thrust is an integrated assessment of the seismicity history and potential of the Ft. Worth Basin and DFW area and how it might relate to oil and gas operations. This will take several years to complete ending in 2019. However, in 2017 TexNet-CISR’s efforts will begin to include other areas of Texas such as the Permian Basin region and the Eagle Ford operating area. While efforts in the DFW area come to conclusion the research team will be focusing increasing efforts in the greater Permian Basin region.
Geographic Emphases of TexNet-CISR Operations and Research
Principal efforts in the 2019-21 time-period include:
- TexNet field and management operations including obtaining USGS authoritative source designation
- TexNet optimization: (re)deployment of portable stations, velocity models, signal analysis
- Accelerate seismicity research: advanced location characterization, accelerated seismicity, seismic fault characterization and moment tensor analysis
- Seismicity characterization of key areas including DFW, northeast of Snyder, Permian Basin region and especially the Delaware Basin, the Eagle Ford Operating area south of San Antonio
- Develop searchable catalog of Texas historical seismicity from all possible sources
- Finish Ft .Worth Basin seismicity assessments and publish results
- Permian Basin and Eagle Ford region subsurface data integration, reservoir property characterization, and 3D geological model construction
- Accelerate investigations of mechanistic analyses in the DFW and Permian Basin areas
- Progress earthquake hazard and risk analysis topics including Vs30 characterization, vulnerability assessments, time-dependent hazard and risk analysis
- Maintain strong interface with TX Legislators, CISR IA Mbrs, RRC, TDEM, USACE, SCITS, RISC States, impacted communities
- Formalize and implement sustainable outreach program
- Continue recruiting and building staff breadth/depth, appropriate utilization of incumbent experts in all partner institutions
In August 2019 the TexNet-CISR research team finalized planning of the 2019-21 project base which is now fully active. This portfolio has many projects that are continuing from the 2017-19 project portfolio, some projects that are continuing but have been reframed to best fit the new portfolio, and many of the projects are new.
Over the 2015-19 time-period and beyond, this base of projects will spatially overlap as appropriate so that static elements such as earthquakes, injection data, and geologic characterizations are completed to facilitate dynamic analyses such as fluid flow and modeling and integrated assessments of the causes of the earthquakes.
Given the high number of earthquakes in the Delaware Basin of West Texas and the Eagle Ford operating area of South Texas, as recorded by TexNet since its inception in 2017, and the keen interest of the TexNet Technical Advisory Committee and CISR sponsor companies, the TexNet-CISR research team will be focusing special attention on the regions shown in the map below. In these areas, CISR member companies have been asked to share certain proprietary subsurface data to facilitate our integrated studies of the causes of the earthquakes.
Earthquake Sequence Areas in the Permian Basin as Monitored by TexNet
TexNet-CISR Delaware Basin Focus Area
TexNet-CISR Eagle Ford Operating Focus Area