Oklahoma Scientists Track Quake Aftershocks

Thursday, May 15th 2008, 5:38 pm
By: News On 6

Green Country scientists are watching the situation in China closely.  The Oklahoma Geological Survey says the quake was so powerful, it even moved the ground here in Green Country.  The News On 6's Chris Wright reports a team in Oklahoma is monitoring the aftershocks.

Although it happened half a world away, Green Country geophysicists are paying attention to the powerful earthquake and its aftermath.

Three days after a massive earthquake decimated central China, the government there now warns that the death toll could reach 50,000.  The quake was so powerful; it registered at the Oklahoma Geological Survey in Leonard, as well as every other monitoring station in the world.

Jim Lawson's primary responsibility is to monitor quakes in Oklahoma.  The Sooner State averages nearly 70 minor ones a year.  But, he also keeps tabs on global events, charting them on one computer.

"There aren't many in China.  For that reason, they weren't as well prepared," said Jim Lawson with the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

Even though you didn't feel it, Monday's quake, a 7.9 on the Richter scale, even shook the ground here in Oklahoma.


"Which makes it, I think, the biggest one this year, and that would mean that the ground is moving up and down here one half of a millimeter," said Jim Lawson with the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

Some of the non-stop aftershocks that are hampering rescue efforts in China are also showing up on the seismograms in Leonard.

There are still about 20 aftershocks a day in China, and two or three of them are big enough to register at the Oklahoma Geological survey.

But while exciting for a geophysicist, Jim says this quake is one he would prefer not to study.

"An earthquake that you would be interviewing anybody about is not just a large earthquake, it's a newsworthy earthquake, and that means lots of death."

The Oklahoma Geological Survey says there have been 30 small earthquakes in Oklahoma this year, but none have occurred in the Tulsa area.