OU geophysicist to study Cushing fault line

Michelle Charles/ Stillwater News Press The Lion’s Den in downtown Cushing sustained severe damage during a 5.0 magnitude earthquake centered just outside the Cushing city limits that struck on Nov. 6, 2016. Xiaowei Chen, a professor from the OU School of Geosciences, is about to begin studying the fault line that triggered the quake.

A geophysicist from the University of Oklahoma is about to begin conducting a study of the seismic fault line associated with the 5.0 magnitude earthquake that struck near Cushing on Nov. 6, 2016.

Xiaowei Chen, an assistant professor at the OU School of Geosciences addressed the Payne County Board of Commissioners on Monday to request permission to use county right-of-ways.

Chen plans to place 130 seismic nodes along the right-of-way of 16.5 miles of county roads on the northwest side of Cushing. The nodes will be buried in 2 inch holes and will remain in place for 30 days to measure ground motions in north, east, and vertical directions.

The measurements from the nodes will allow Chen to study properties of the fault, including the velocity structures of the fault, which runs in a northeast direction approximately a mile and a half from Cushing.

Chen estimates the fault to be at a depth between 6,560 feet and 14,760 feet beneath the surface. The commissioners asked Chen to provide proof of liability insurance before his small crews begin installing the seismic nodes in early November.

District 1 Commissioner Zach Cavett jokingly asked Chen if the OU students assisting her on the project would be willing to wear bright orange clothing to be visible while working on the roadways. Professor Chen, who is not a football fan, responded, “Yes.”

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