Seeking Earthquake Answers, TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program Authorized by the State of Texas

Depiction of mole tracks after an earthquake.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed legislation authorizing funding of $4.47 million for the TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program, an initiative led by the Bureau of Economic Geology — the State Geologic Survey of Texas — at The University of Texas at Austin. TexNet will enhance the ability of the State of Texas to gather information about subsurface seismic activity by placing seismometers throughout the state and analyzing data resulting from any future seismic events.

The mission of TexNet is to provide transparent access to data and information regarding the understanding of earthquake activity in Texas, both natural and potentially induced by human activity. TexNet will acquire and install at least 22 permanent seismometers in key locations, augmenting the 16 existing seismometers currently in place in Texas. Another 36 portable seismometers will be staged in Bureau of Economic Geology facilities across the state, ready to rapidly deploy to investigate key future earthquake activity.

TexNet has two primary goals: to monitor, locate and catalog seismic activity with magnitudes of 2.0 and larger, and to improve the state’s ability to rapidly investigate ongoing earthquake sequences in Texas. Of particular importance are those earthquakes larger than magnitude 3.0 in or near urban areas, or in locations where ongoing human activities might be influencing earthquake activity.

Funding for TexNet will enable state-of-the-art seismometers and equipment to be purchased, installed and maintained. The funding will also provide support for a multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, researchers and earthquake experts from across The University of Texas at Austin, and from other Texas universities and collaborators, to gather data from seismic events, conduct objective research, and then publish findings that should provide the residents of Texas with answers to many of their important questions about earthquake activity in the state.

“We’re very grateful to Gov. Abbott and the state Legislature for entrusting us with the task of investigating seismic activity in Texas in a transparent way, and for providing the tools to gather new data and produce unbiased research that will help guide decision-makers as they contemplate future policy regarding these events,” said Dr. Scott W. Tinker, state geologist of Texas and director of the Bureau of Economic Geology. “We’re excited to work together with our academic, industry, state and federal government partners to advance seismic understanding in Texas.”