Trucks later this month will begin thumping the ground along Erie’s southern grass fields — and likely in the backyards of homes — in search for oil and gas reserves under the surface.

That seismic testing will come ahead of Denver drilling firm Crestone Peak Resources’s plans to tap 30 wells in the area. An Erie email blast sent out this week says the work will finish sometime next month.

A map released by the town shows a wide-ranging area where such tests will be conducted, though Crestone officials on Thursday said the majority of the work will be confined to land around Colo. 7 and East County Line Road, near the company’s planned Acme site at Colo. 7 and Bonanza Drive.

“We’re trying to understand where we can access,” Crestone spokesman Jason Oates said Thursday, “and in order to more efficiently drill those wells we want to have a map of where we’re going.”

Normally such work already would have been done at this point in the development process, he added, but the area’s relative dormancy in recent years and advancements in technology has made it necessary to revisit.

Seismic surveyors place sensors roughly the size of soda cans across fields and neighborhoods at the start; heavy trucks then drop large, metal vibrator plates to thump and shake the ground, creating pressure waves that, similar to how a sonar is used, generate a three-dimensional image of the underground rock formations companies use to determine where to drill for oil and gas.

“Typically,” a Crestone brochure reads, “receivers are placed along fences or sidewalks and do not affect normal day-to-day activities, like playing catch in the yard or mowing the lawn.

“Depending on the placement of the well locations, the survey area may encompass uninhabited and open lands, as well as neighborhoods, although we aim to survey outside of neighborhoods whenever possible,” the Crestone brochure reads.

On private property, the company says it asks permission before placing receivers. “As required by state law, landowners will be compensated for damages actually caused to crops or other property.”

Those assertions have done little to calm residents’ fears in the past and are unlikely to do so in this instance.

In 2013, a Weld County couple alleged that similar seismic testing caused structural damage to their house and barn and triggered the collapse of their well.

Erie Trustee Christiaan van Woudenberg said of the tests Thursday: “it only serves to underscore the issues with residential drilling.”

Negotiations that lead led to Crestone’s planned drilling of the Acme site were met with resistance from residents in the neighboring Anthem Ranch neighborhood in Broomfield, many of whom feared the inevitable disruptions similar to the upcoming tests.

The Acme site, as well as Erie’s operator agreement with Crestone, are the subject of a lawsuit a group of Erie residents filed against the town in December. The suit demands protections for public health and safety in regard to town-approved drilling and fracking plans.

The lawsuit, in which Crestone is listed as an interested party, includes allegations of due process violations concerning the approval of the operator agreement, including the board’s handling of the Acme application and “closed door negotiations” of the agreement.

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