There have been over 570 seismic activities in Oklahoma in 2017 as recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey, or USGS.
Scientists with the USGS and the Oklahoma Geological Survey, or OGS, began a 6 to 10-week survey of southwest Oklahoma’s fault lines on Monday at the Altus Quartz Mountain Regional Airport. USGS and OGS are contracting with Glodak Airborne Surveys to conduct surveys in over 18 counties in southwestern and north-central Oklahoma to capture 3-D images of geology beneath Earth’s surface for earthquakes hazard and mineral resources.
“Oklahoma has been experiencing increased seismicity since about 2009. Many of these earthquakes occur on faults that haven’t been mapped,” USGS scientist and project lead Dr. Anji Shah said. “In order to better understand local seismic hazards, the USGS and OGS will use the new data to work toward improved fault maps.”
Survey areas will include parts of Alfalfa, Beckham, Comanche, Greer, Harmon, Kiowa, Jackson, Lincoln, Logan, Major, Noble, Pawnee, Pottawatomie, Stephens, Tillman, Woods, and Woodward counties.
Utilizing a magnetic sensor attached to the aircraft, scientists will be able to record the variations in earth’s magnetic field created by different rock types several miles beneath the surface.
“Sometimes there are variations from different rock types responding to earth’s field sitting next to each other,” Dr. Shah said. “We can measure that with the sensor and see those contrasts to map faults. The way the aircraft works is with a completely passive sensor that doesn’t emit anything. It will be a low-flying airplane for better imaging.”
The magnetic field will map faults as well as intrusions or rocks formed by ancient volcanic eruptions that never reached Earth’s surface.
All flight plans for the survey have been cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration to pose no threat to plant or animal life or other aircraft in the area.
“Even 10, 50 or 100 years ago, Oklahoma did get earthquakes but very few,” Dr. Shah said. “The concern would be for buildings in Oklahoma that aren’t built to withstand earthquakes like buildings are along the West Coast. Hopefully there are lessons that can be learned from other parts of the country.”
The USGS also collects information from local sources whenever an earthquake occurs. Anyone who feels an earthquake can report it to the USGS under a list of known seismic events or by reporting one that is unknown through the USGS’ “Did You Feel It?” This allows the USGS to better understand the range of a seismic activity from the perspective of local residents.
For more information contact Heidi Koontz at 303-202-4763.
Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.