Texas Earthquake System Strengthens National Network

Now in its fifth year of operation, the Bureau of Economic Geology’s TexNet earthquake monitoring system manages more than 150 seismic stations throughout Texas and has been integrated into the country’s national monitoring system operated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

TexNet helps fill a major coverage hole in the national system, which had sparse coverage of the state. It is now part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS), a network that provides real-time information about seismic activity to researchers and emergency responders.

The addition was made possible by TexNet reaching several milestones. These include establishing 24/7 operations at all monitoring locations, having a seismologist on duty around the clock, and creating a backup infrastructure hub to ensure the system will continue operating if the primary hub fails.

“We welcome this new partnership with TexNet, which has successfully demonstrated its ability to meet high ANSS monitoring standards,” said USGS acting Director David Applegate. “TexNet earthquake solutions will become the authoritative source for the state of Texas on the earthquakes.usgs.gov webpage, which provides timely and accurate earthquake information to millions of users each month.”

TexNet was approved for state funding in 2015 to help determine what was causing an increase in seismic activity in parts of the state. The network distributes earthquake information in less than 20 minutes from the time of occurrence for all events with magnitude of 3.0 or greater. The information is posted on the publicly available TexNet Earthquake Catalog (beg.utexas. edu/texnet-cisr/texnet/earthquakecatalog) and now the USGS ComCat catalog (earthquake.usgs.gov/ earthquakes/map).

Before TexNet, only 18 public seismic monitors existed throughout the state. Now, there are more than 150, with a particular focus on areas exhibiting an uptick in seismicity. “TexNet is providing critical data and unbiased research to help guide industry and decision makers and make the investigation of seismic data and earthquake activity accessible for all,” said Scott Tinker, the state geologist of Texas and bureau director.

The Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator, uses information from TexNet to understand, regulate and mitigate seismic hazards. The system’s data and expertise are also used by other state, federal and local agencies as well as academic and research institutions throughout the world.

TexNet Manager Alexandros Savvaidis said plans include adding more stations in the Permian Basin area and the Eagle Ford Shale, more automation to decrease the time between a seismic event and when the information is posted, and to better illustrate when seismicity is occurring in clusters and how it is shifting across the state.

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