Aaron Velasco is going to be telling Texas oil and gas regulators what’s shaking.
Velasco was hired this week by the Texas Railroad Commission to be its seismologist to help the agency study where and when there is seismic activity as it relates to oil and gas drilling. The railroad commission regulates the oil and gas industry in Texas.
Velasco will replace the commission’s first seismologist, Craig Pearson, who was hired in 2014 after a rash of earthquakes in North Texas were linked to oil and gas drilling. Pearson, who resigned June 1, remains on staff as the director of the Midland Oil and Gas Division District office.
Besides reviewing drilling permits for the agency, Velasco will work with the TexNet Seismic Monitoring program run by UT Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology. TexNet has more than 50 seismographs placed around the state at any one time to study what is making the ground move below our feet.
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“The Railroad Commission takes the issue of induced seismicity very seriously,” said Commissioner Ryan Sitton. “I look forward to working with Dr. Velasco to continue to ensure we have necessary procedures in place to minimize and mitigate potential risks.”
Velasco, a professor of geological sciences at the University of Texas in El Paso, will continue to serve in that post.