Visiting the Oklahoma Geological Survey Observatory near Leonard, OK

pack 985 History of the Oklahoma Geological Survey Observatory

The Soviet General in Blue Jeans: A seventh grader's perspective on Soviet (later Russian) nuclear monitoring at OGS

Many groups of persons interested in Oklahoma Earthquakes and seismology and geophysics in general visit the Observatory each year. Tours are a no- cost education and outreach service of the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

2007 visitors schedule (with links to group photos)

2005-2006 visitors schedule (with links to group photos)

2004 visitors schedule (with links to group photos)

2003 visitors schedule (with links to group photos)

2002 visitors schedule (with links to group photos)

2001 visitors schedule (with links to group photos)

2000 visitors schedule.

1999 visitors schedule.

A few group photos are shown on this page. All group photos may be seen by selecting the schedule for the year they visited, than selecting "photo" by the group name.

The Elsing Mineral Meuseum in Tulsa is another agency with no-cost tours

Groups spend ninety to one hundred fifteen minutes at the site. They examine 
seismic equipment, including seismometers in the underground walk
in vault. Seismic waves and some general information on earthquakes and plate
tectonics is explained. The remainder of the time is spent looking at digital
displays of earthquake maps (Oklahoma and worldwide) on a computer display,
and examining at least one Oklahoma earthquake seismogram, and one distant
earthquake seismogram in detail.

Beginning 2001 Jun05 visiting groups will be photographed, unless the group leader prefers otherwise, and a link to the photograph will be added to their listing in the visitors schedule. See for example "2001 visitors schedule" for the Kaledioscope group on JUN05. Individuals in the photo will NOT be identified.

Visits may be arranged by calling Amie Gibson at 918- 366-4152 or emailing Because of space limitations, groups much larger than 25 at one time are not practical. We had one school group of 100, but they came 25 at a time for four successive days.

 Tours of the Observatory are a public service and education function of the Oklahoma Geological Survey. There is no charge. For any group wishing to spend an additional hour after visiting the Observatory, a "mini" geology field trip may be scheduled. Possible preparation for a visit to Leonard might include: 1. Browsing through this web site. 2. Discussion of global earthquakes and plate tectonics. 3. Discussion of the types of seismic waves produced by earthquakes, mining blasts and underground nuclear explosions. These include P waves (primary, push-pull, or longitudinal), and S (secondary, shake, or transverse) body waves, which travel in curved paths through the BODY of the earth. There are also waves which follow the earth's surface. They are usually grouped as L (large, last, or largo=slow). There are actually two surface waves, LQ=Love, and LR=Rayleigh. 4. Discussion of 24 hour time, and why the time used at the Observatory is Universal Time Coordinated (prior to 1972 this was called "Greenwich Mean Time"). UTC is six hours later than Central Standard Time, or five hours later than Central Daylight Time. To find the Observatory, use the map below to find Leonard, then follow the second map and/or use narrative instructions following the second map.

Observatory Map  PDF file Courtesy of James Anderson Cartography Manager  OGS Norman


In Leonard turn South off highway 64 beside the First Baptist Church.

Aside: In Leonard, you are traveling over alluvium on the flood plain of
       the Arkansas River. The River is 4 miles East, North, and Northwest
       of you. As you head North, you move from the young river deposits
       onto rock deposited on the sea bottom in the Pennsylvian Age (outside
       North America it is called the Upper Carboniferus Age).

Continue South for 0.3 miles, follow the road to the right, then immediately
to the left, then left again. 

At this point you will see a sign "BIXHOMA LAKE ROAD" pointing to your
right and uphill.
Aside: The oil production in this area, which has been decreasing for decades,
       is from the Red Fork Sandstone 700 feet deep, and the Dutcher 
       sandstone at 1600 feet depths. This is what oilwomen and oilmen call
       "shallow country". Basement rock, Spavinaw Granite, is
       only 3600 feet below you.

       Agricultural production in this area is pecans, sod, and some alfalfa.

Turn right and follow the Bixhoma Lake Road uphill for 0.55 miles. 

Watch for three large pine trees on your left. There is a one story house
with a rail fence near the pines. To your left, follow a road which runs
through a black iron gate and beside the house. Punch 028 on the keypad
to the left of the gate. OGS staff will answer the speakerphone and open
the gate.

Follow this road 0.15 miles. It curves around and runs through a draw. 
It is very hard to see oncoming traffic, and the road is narrow.
Drive slow and be alert. You will come to a road branching right, but
continue to drive straight ahead onto State property. You should see
an "OKLAHOMA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY" sign ahead and to the right of the road.

Aside: You are traveling through the Crosstimbers forest of Post Oak,
       Blackjack Oak, and Hickories. Somewhere in this area, Beattie, in
       Washington Irving's party (in Chapter XXXV of _A_Tour_On_The_
       _Praries_) climbed a tree to look for the Arkansas River, to
       guide the lost explorers. Irving wrote that the sighting was
       "... like the welcome cry of land to tempest-tossed mariners".

       You are on a hill capped by about 25 feet of Wewoka sandstone.
       As the surrounding area eroded down, the sandstone slowed the erosion
       and left this hill. Such a hill produced by an erosion resistant 
       cap rock is called a "cuesta".

Continue through the crosstimbers until you see tan and yellow buildings and
a fence. Do not go to these buildings. They house only paper seismogram 

Aside: On June 1, 1990 Bush and Gorbachev signed a protocol that called
       for these buildings to be built as a Soviet Nuclear monitoring site.
       The Soviets (later Russians) were allowed to have a seismograph
       station there to record seismic waves from American, and an
       occasional British, underground nuclear blast in Nevada. Seven years
       later, after Russian-UK-US Nuclear testing ended, Russia released
       the site, and the United States turned the dollar-per-year leased
       land back to Oklahoma.

Just before these buildings, red and white street signs mark "Observatory
Lane" and "Glasnost Road" in English and Russian. Turn Left down Observatory
Lane (the Russian words are pronounced "daroga observatee"). You will see
an American and Oklahoma flag in front of a one story concrete block
building, which is your destination.