Local researchers study Midwestern earthquakes

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Researchers in Indiana and across the Midwest are paying close attention to the earthquake in California. A major project is in progress right now to track earthquakes in Middle America.

The study is called "OIINK," an abbreviation for the Ozarks, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. Indiana University seismologist Dr. Michael Hamburger is one of the lead researchers.

"In near-real time, we can actually see the seismic data being collected," Hamburger said.

The million dollar project started in 2011 and is expected to wrap up next spring.

Researchers from IU, Purdue and the University of Illinois are working with the Indiana and Illinois State Geological Surveys. The geologists buried dozens of delicate sensors at almost 140 rural spots around the Midwest.

"We get up and down motion, north-south and east-west. So together we can reconstruct how the ground is moving in three dimensions," explained Hamburger.

The sensors are powered by solar energy. Data is transferred through cell phone technology. Each wave is investigated.

"The places where small earthquakes are happening now, are the places where larger earthquakes could happen in the future," Hamburger said.

The "OIINK" project is part of a bigger, national study called "EarthScope," which is funded by the National Science Foundation.