The Texas Railroad Commission said Friday it has hired David Craig Pearson to be its first staff seismologist, a position the agency created in response to a swarm of small earthquakes in the Azle area beginning last November. Pearson, previously with Los Alamos National Laboratory, starts April 1. The Railroad Commission regulates the oil and gas industry in the state, including the operation of wastewater disposal wells, which have been linked to seismic activity in several studies.
“My objective is to develop a broad understanding of the impact of oil and gas extraction activities on the day-to-day lives of Texas residents,” Pearson said in a prepared release. “I believe the Railroad Commission must be able to quickly and factually determine the accurate location of all earthquakes in the state and be able to determine the cause of earthquakes, be they natural or man-made.
Azle has a number of wastewater injection wells in the vicinity of the quakes. Other studies have tied waste disposal wells to seismic activity, which has been sharply rising in the nation's mid-section with the rise in wastewater disposal from hydraulic fracturing.
-- Jim Fuquay