Seismic Activity Tests Leave Neighbors Wondering

By Chris Van Horne
|  Thursday, Jun 23, 2011  |  Updated 12:30 PM CDT
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Cables and boxes are popping up all over the Meadowbrook Neighborhood in east Fort Worth, it's all part of tapping into natural gas in the Barnett Shale.

Chris Van Horne, NBCDFW.com

Cables and boxes are popping up all over the Meadowbrook Neighborhood in east Fort Worth, it's all part of tapping into natural gas in the Barnett Shale.

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Natural gas drilling takes place all across North Texas, but some residents may have no clue about one of the processes used to study potential sites.

In the West Meadowbrook neighborhood of Fort Worth you'll find a series of cables, boxes and what's called geophones running up and down the streets.

"Coming home one evening my wife and I noticed there were cords running through the whole neighborhood," said Henry Musoma. "We were just kind of wondering what it was."

The geophone is placed in the ground and is attached to a box that collects the data. The geophones absorb soundwaves generated by what's called the "vibe buggy" which vibrates the ground. The data is then used to develop 3-D maps that Chesapeake Energy uses to help find a better way to extract the natural gas from the Barnett Shale.

"We are able to more accurately place wells, more accurately place pads, we're able to maximize the efficiency of the wells that we create," said Mercedes Bolen of Chesapeake. "It's kind of akin to avoiding the pot hole and bending your rim, it's the same type of benefit."

Chesapeake said there are myths or misnomers about the geophones, but said they're completely safe. The devices don't monitor earthquakes or any seismic activity aside from the sound waves and doesn't impact buildings' foundations.

Residents were notified about the study by mail, but there are also signs posted sporadically across the neighborhoods.

"We were also given phone numbers to call if we had question and that allayed our fears," said Musoma.

And just because the geophones are in place doesn't necessarily mean more sites are coming, but if additional wells are drilled they could be more efficient..

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