MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - One geologist stopped in Midland on Wednesday to talk to the Midland Chapter of the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists about his studies on seismic activity.
"The entire south-central United States has seen an increase in seismicity over the last decade or so," said Dr. Peter Hennings.
Hennings is a research scientist at the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG). The BEG has been working on a program called TexNet that tracks earthquake activity around the state. But soon, their studies can answer the question to whether they're caused by the oil industry.
"There has been an increase in seismicity in Texas to the point where they're now typically 15 or more events that can be felt at the surface. The public has some concern about that," said Hennings. "Our research is going to help them understand where it comes from and steps taken to mitigate it if there are mechanisms to do that."
The BEG is in the process of putting out portable seismic stations in the Delaware Basin, where shale development is expected to grow in the future. Right now, TexNet has five seismic monitoring stations in Pecos, a spot where earthquakes are prominent in West Texas.
"In the greater West Texas area and Pecos area, there is seismicity," said Hennings. "We can't say yet whether it's natural-caused seismicity or it's caused by something related to the petroleum industry, but we'll now be able to do those studies."
The BEG is studying several basins across the state and is looking at the Fort Worth Basin where earthquakes are stronger. After those studies, they'll shift their research in the West Texas region.
TexNet will have a live streaming feature where you can watch where earthquakes are happening on their website. It's expected to go up in a few months.