Oklahoma to Be Part of National Earthquake Study

August 4, 2009

Oklahoma will be part of a national research project intended to help scientists better understand earthquakes.

Eight temporary earthquake monitoring stations have been installed in western Oklahoma as part of an Oregon State University project called EarthScope.

EarthScope education manager Bob Lillie said the stations will provide a better look at what is below Oklahoma’s surface.

“It’s CAT scans and ultrasounds of the Earth,” Lillie said.

Geophysicist Bruce Presgrave at the U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center said the project will help scientists better understand how the earth moves.

“At this point, we cannot predict earthquakes,” Presgrave said. “But there is always hope that someday we might be able to. The more we know about earthquakes and earth processes, the better the chance that we might someday be able to do that.”

Ken Luza, an engineering geologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey, said the state averages about 50 earthquakes a year with about half of those in a fault zone that runs between Norman and Pauls Valley in the state’s central region. Most of those quakes are not felt.

In 2009, 15 earthquakes have been felt in seven Oklahoma counties – Lincoln, Oklahoma, Garfield, McClain, Pottawatomie, Coal and Grady.

The largest earthquake ever in Oklahoma occurred in 1952, when a magnitude 5.5 quake was recorded near El Reno in Canadian County.

Luza said there is no evidence that suggests that a large earthquake might occur in Oklahoma, but that it’s important to continually monitor. When the EarthScope project ends, the state Geological Survey, which now operates seven monitoring stations, will adopt four of the stations.

“We’re going to try to better understand what’s causing the earthquakes,” Luza said.

Information from: The Oklahoman, www.newsok.com

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