EL RENO, Oklahoma - A research project is underway across Canadian County that aims to map the rock formations below the Earth's surface. Geophones have been installed throughout El Reno and Yukon, and the information gathered will be used to help oil drillers.

A third-party company called CGG is collecting data to provide a comprehensive subterranean map of the area. It is one of the tools oil and gas companies can use to drill more successful wells.

Over the past month, geophones have appeared along streets corners and front yards, many of them held in place by bright orange sandbags. Each spending two to four weeks in one spot, the phones pick up sound waves as they travel through the different layers of the Earth's crust, and a vibrating truck prowls the area so crews can record what they hear.

“As we move from the north to the south, they remove the northern most line and put it down to the southern-most line, and then kind of leapfrog their way down through the program,” explained Mike Bertness, who serves as CGG’s Vice President of US Land Multi-Client and New Ventures.

Sound flows differently through different types of rocks, minerals and fissures in the earth. Gaps may indicate an area of trapped oil or natural gas.

Among other monitoring tools, Bertness says oil and gas companies “try to use all those different things to get the best picture they can of that area.”

Once all the data is compiled, CGG will lease the map to drillers, many of whom are looking for areas with less seismic activity than the eastern part of the state. Industry representatives say the western half of Oklahoma poses a lower threat because there is not as much wastewater lurking beneath the surface.

New rigs are not expected to appear overnight, but in the meantime, if you see the devices in your neighborhood, do not be alarmed. CGG asks that you do not touch or tamper with them, however.

“There’s no danger, but it would not help the survey at all,” said Bertness.

The entire project is expected to go on through the end of November.

If you have any questions, a local point of contact can be reached at (405) 295-2250.

For more information about the project, click here.