There’s a lot shaking in the world of Texas earthquakes, so a new committee appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott to study what’s moving beneath North Texas could be busy.
Last month, Abbott appointed nine people to serve on the Technical Advisory Committee to the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas in Austin as it spends about $4.5 million for a comprehensive study after a rash of earthquakes hit North Texas in recent years, the largest a 4.0-magnitude temblor near Venus and Mansfield last May.
Leading the group will be Robie Vaughn of Dallas, owner of Vaughn Capital. He is the co-founder and member of the Dallas Producers Club and a member of the Dallas Petroleum Club. Joining him are Scott Tinker, the state geologist for Texas and director of the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, and Craig Pearson, seismologist for the Texas Railroad Commission.
Other members include Brian Stump, a professor at Southern Methodist University who has studied the North Texas earthquakes; Dan Hill, a petroleum professor at Texas A&M University; Dana Jurick, a manager of seismic analysis for ConocoPhillips; Hal Macartney, a geoscience manager for Pioneer Natural Resources; and Kris Nygaard, a consultant for ExxonMobil Upstream Research.
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Irving City Manager Chris Hillman, who works for a city that has endured more earthquakes than they’d like to recall, is the only non-seismologist, non-energy industry member of the committee.
Of the $4.5 million the committee oversees, $2.47 million is dedicated to buy equipment for the so-called TexNet system that will place 22 permanent seismograph stations and 36 portable stations around the state to measure seismic activity. The remaining $2 million goes to study the results.
According to a spokesman for the Bureau of Economic Geology, a contractor for the TexNet hardware has been selected, contract negotiations have been finalized, and the first installations are expected early this summer.