The Oklahoma Geological Survey has proposed to install more than 70 permanent seismic stations across the state that would allow scientists to better study earthquakes.
The $3.5 million proposal would be placed in a grid pattern and phased in for three years, The Tulsa World reported. The cost to operate the stations for five years would be $400,000.
“Finding the smallest (magnitude) earthquakes will help you learn more about the whole systems that are generating these larger events,” said Jake Walter, an Oklahoma seismologist. “So if we can learn more about it, perhaps we can get to the point where we’re forecasting them.”
Walter said the state’s earthquake monitoring capabilities should’ve been investigated a decade ago. He said a more robust system will improve scientific knowledge of the state’s induced seismicity and improve mitigation practices.
“It’s an opportunity to understand this to a degree that’s kind of unprecedented,” Walter said. “There’s been nothing like the scale of the environmental experiment that’s being conducted right now in the state of Oklahoma.”
The state currently has approximately 50 seismometers on loan from outside sources. Another 10 from the U.S. Geological Survey are temporarily in place. Others devices in nearby states also help pinpoint Oklahoma earthquakes.
“We’re already over-extending our borrowing of some of the equipment,” Walter said. “There’s a real pressing need to invest in this infrastructure for our state.”
Walter said he hopes to acquire state and industry investment, which could secure federal dollars toward the plan.
“This is a long-term solution for Oklahoma, looking forward and being proactive in monitoring seismicity rather than reactive like it has been,” Walter said.