“It’s very important,” Scientists installing devices to learn more about northwest Oklahoma earthquakes

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FAIRVIEW, Okla. - Last month, the third largest earthquake in state history was recorded when a 5.1 quake rattled Fairview.

Now, officials are using technology in an attempt to get ahead of the quakes.

On Tuesday, new seismic sensors were put in place to help locate and determine the size of the nearest fault line.

Researchers and students from the University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Geological Survey were drilling, digging, and connecting all the parts together in the town.

“Right now, we are installing a broadband seismometer,” said Jefferson Chang, research associate at OGS. “It’s very important. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know where the earthquake was."

Researchers say the seismic monitoring device is extremely sensitive, adding that it picks up earthquake activity from across the county.

“If there is an earthquake, the broadband seismometer has a mass inside that wiggles,” he said. “If you have a much denser array of sensors, you can hopefully see things that happen before the big event.”

It was February's earthquake that made Xiaowei Chen, assistant professor of Seismology and Earthquake Process at the University of Oklahoma, request a sensor for this area from a national research group.

“They approved my request and sent my station in five days,” Chen said.

All week, her students were working hard, hoping to make a breakthrough that could lead to definite answers about the most recent earthquakes.

“Right now, they are putting the sensor inside and it’s going to be connected to the black box,” Chen said.

That box sends relevant information back to researchers by recording ground motion that can tell them the location, strength of a quake and information on fault lines.

There are 50 or 60 similar monitors across the state. Researchers say more monitors are needed because their information has real world applications.

“If you don’t have any faults or fault movement, you are going to think it’s pretty safe, the building codes are going to be pretty lax,” Chang said.

Once the sensor is in place, the data is available immediately.