MEO MEERS OBSERVATORY
Oklahoma Geological Survey

In May of 1985, the Oklahoma Geological Survey installed a seismograph in the Meers Store to monitor the Meers Fault. The Meers Store became "MEO - Meers Observatory" and has proven to be one of the most sensitive stations in the country recordING earthquakes in the Indian Ocean, more than 10,300 miles from Meers. Russian nuclear tests, a mine collapse in Michigan, and a natural gas explosion in Brenham, Texas.

 

It is operated on a voluntary basis by the Meers store staff, and is supervised by Dr. Jim Lawson of The Oklahoma Geophysical Observatory, Oklahoma Geological Survey, Leonard, Oklahoma

THE MEERS FAULT

The Meers Fault is a profound structural dislocation, forms the frontal fault zone between the Wichita Uplift to the south and the Anadarko Basin to the north. The Meers fault is part of the Pennsylvanian Frontal Fault System that stretches from the southeast to the northwest through south central and southwest Oklahoma and into the Texas Panhandle.

 

The characteristics of the fault are unusual for The Mid-Continental United States. A distinct fault trace is Visible form near Saddle Mountain to Cache Creek, at least 15 miles. Scientists had believed that the last major movement occurred during the Pennsylvanian period some 300 million years ago. However, recent studies show the time of the last major movement occurred 500 to 2000 years ago, and that the Meers fault could produce a magnitude 7 earthquake in the future.

 

The Meers fault would appear to belong in California, where young faults are plentiful, but it is the only surface-breaking rupture east of the Rocky Mountains. The Meers fault is the first documented movement of a fault In the last 10,000 years in the Central Mid-Continent region of the United States - Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

 

Seismically, the Meers fault has been extremely quiet. Only one small quake in 1981 can be associated with it. This quietness makes some scientists uncomfortable, but most scientists believe there is little cause for immediate concern. Geologically speaking, 1500 to 2000 years is quite recent. New studies suggest that earthquakes occur in the Meers fault at very long intervals. It could be another thousand years before another major quake occurs.

 

The entire fault trace is visible from the air. A part of it can be seen near the stony point school. However, it can best be seen on the Kimball Ranch. School groups are allowed on the ranch by appointment to view the fault. Call the ranch at 492-4581 for more information.

The Meers seismometer is located in a mine shaft about 2000 feet northwest of the Meers store, and is connected to the seismograph in the store by coaxial cable. Our station is one of the most sensitive in the country. We have recorded quakes in the Indian ocean near Diego Garcia island, 10,300 Miles from Meers, nearly at the opposite point on the earth from Meers. It took 20 minutes for the wave to travel straight through the earth to Meers, a distance of nearly 8,000 miles.

 

Even with its close location, Artillery firing at Fort Sill does not interfere with seismic recording at Meers.

 

Recent Activity (Past 30 Years)

 

• January 14, 1988 we recorded a small quake magnitude 4.3, in Nicaragua at a distance of 1,675 miles. Meers was the only station outside of central America to report this earthquake.

 

• November 15, 1990 we recorded a trembler, magnitude 3.6 in northern Gavin county, about 55 miles east of Meers. It rattled windows in Lindsay and rush Springs. (It was the largest earthquake in Oklahoma since December 8, 1987 when a magnitude 3.7 occurred in Kingfisher County.)

 

• From January 1, 1977 through August 12, 1990 there were 695 earthquakes in 64 of Oklahoma 77 counties . The Most seismically active areas of Oklahoma are from near the Red River in Love county, north to Gavin county, and in the El Reno and Kingfisher areas.