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Twenty-Two Seismic Monitoring Stations Coming to Texas

Texas will get 22 more seismic monitoring stations to supplement the 17 units already in place as part of the TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program administered by the University of Texas at Austin's (UT) Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG). Ottawa, Canada-based Nanometrics recently signed a US$1.98 million contract to supply and help deploy equipment.

The program is expected to allow for more precise determination of the location of earthquakes and increase the ability for researchers to investigate potential causes. The members of an advisory committee that would help run the program were appointed earlier this year (see Shale DailyMarch 28). The committee was created by Texas House Bill 2 with an appropriation of $4.47 million to UT.

The statewide effort is intended to address complaints of increased seismicity in the area of oil/natural gas operations, particularly drilling waste injection wells (see Shale Daily, Sept. 11, 2015; Jan. 21, 2014).

The agreement with Nanometrics follows a competitive bid. The firm's experts would help maintain the monitoring equipment after deployment, allowing BEG staff to focus on network management, scientific products, and research activities related to the resulting data, Nanometrics said.

Nanometrics is supplying TexNet with 22 permanent seismograph stations, which would be added to the existing backbone of 17 stations. Nanometrics would also supply 36 portable stations that would be maintained and deployed by the BEG to target and respond to seismic events as necessary (see Shale DailyJune 24, 2015). The data produced would be delivered in near-real time to state databases and to the Incorporated Research Institute for Seismology.

Some monitoring stations are expected to be online by early summer, with the majority of the system deployed by the end of the year.

TexNet would allow oil and gas operators, university researchers, regulators, city planners and others to have access to a catalog of regional data about the level of seismicity of an area. TexNet would provide baseline data to ensure that planning is based on reliable, up-to-date information.

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