Thursday, August 17, 2017

Earthquake researchers to map faults by airplane

Researchers are turning to the sky to help stop earthquakes from rumbling deep beneath the Oklahoma soil.
The U.S. Geological Survey in coordination with the Oklahoma Geological Survey and other groups this week began using a modified small airplane to study the state's geology in an attempt to map deep, existing faults.
The aircraft over the next two months will fly over portions of the state at an altitude of about 400 feet, using sensitive equipment to measure the naturally occurring magnetic fields created when different rock types are next to each other.
"The goal of this project is to better map the faults that are deep within the ground, and particularity to map the faults that are likely to create an earthquake," USGS research geophysicist Anji Shah said Tuesday afternoon.
"We have found many of the earthquakes have occurred in sequences that form lines, which suggests there are faults associated with those earthquakes. But when we compare it to our existing fault maps, they don't seem to line up. This makes it difficult to tell what the earthquake risk is and suggest there are faults we are not aware of."
Researchers over the past two years have used data from oil and natural gas companies to improve their fault maps, gaining a much better picture of the ancient cracks that crisscross the state.
But most of the industry data covers only the first mile or so beneath the surface. Most of the state's earthquakes have been much deeper.
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