With fracking and rumblings from the earth growing hand-in-hand, Texas has a new way for the public to track earthquakes in real time.
TexNet, which the University of Texas said is the nation’s most advanced state-run seismic monitoring system, includes 22 permanent monitoring stations and another 40 portable ones. The system started up in 2015 after getting $4.47 million in state funding.
The Permian Basin in west Texas and New Mexico and the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas continue to see some of the nation’s strongest drilling activity.
Those regions, along with the Dallas-Fort Worth area, have all seen an increase in earthquakes, according to a statement earlier this month from the University of Texas at Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology.
“Small earthquake events have become more common in Texas recently,” said Scott Tinker, director of the economic geology bureau. “We are now positioned to learn more about them and, hopefully, to understand how to mitigate their impacts in the future.”
The U.S. shale boom over the past decade has benefited from a rise in hydraulic fracturing, which blasts water, sand and chemicals underground to release trapped hydrocarbons. That dirty fracking water in the well later returns to the surface, along with water that is naturally comingled in the underground reservoir with oil and natural gas.
The disposal of all of that dirty water from oil wells has been cited in the past as one of the main factors for a rise in earthquakes in places such as Oklahoma, where seismicity increases happened in oil-drilling hot spots.