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10/25/2022 - 10/25/2022

It’s Not Sci-Fi: RRC Turns to Artificial Intelligence to Improve Process of Conducting Seismicity Reviews

The GWPC is highlighting groundwater and UIC issues, projects, successes in a series of free webinars. Join us October 25 from 1 pm – 2 pm (central) as Sean Avitt, Manager of the Texas Railroad Commission UIC Program, highlights how the RRC has turned to artificial intelligence to optimize the time the agency’s technical analysts spend on seismicity reviews to ensure residents and the environment are protected.

Discussion Topics

  • Sean’s Personal Data Journey
  • Seismicity SWD Permit Review
  • Review Time Challenges
  • Seismicity Review Automation
  • Machine Learning Basics
  • Decision Tree ML Model
  • Project Results and Conclusions

Please register for the free GWPC WEBINAR – It’s Not Sci-Fi: RRC Turns to Artificial Intelligence to Improve Process of Conducting Seismicity Reviews on Oct 25, 2022 at 1:00 PM CDT.


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

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Sean Avitt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s of science in Geoscience. For the last four years, he has been the manager of the Injection-Storage Permits Unit at the Railroad Commission of Texas. He’s been with the Commission for over ten years and has experience in environmental permitting, assessment and remediation, well log analysis, computer programming and data management. Sean is currently working on reducing seismicity in Texas, developing Texas’ carbon sequestration program, enhancing data access and utility, and task automation.

In June 2022, GWPC President Nick Tew presented Texas Railroad Commission with the first-ever GWPC Excellence in UIC Award for their exemplary efforts utilizing artificial intelligence to speed up and streamline seismicity reviews. We are excited to offer this webinar, and thank Texas for sharing more about their efforts.

Additional Information/Highlights:

According to the Railroad Commission, seismicity reviews are conducted by the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Department for injection/disposal well permits in areas susceptible to earthquakes and in certain geologic zones. UIC staff programed a machine learning algorithm to help with the large amount of information that needs to be processed and digested.

Along with some other changes, tasks performed by the machine learning algorithm have enabled UIC to wipe out a backlog of seismic reviews to zero today.

Like the technical analyst, the AI program weighs many factors related to the number, severity and proximity of earthquakes and uses a decision tree to assign a grade to the review. The higher the grade, the more the permit would be allowed to inject.

If AI grades the seismic review with low grades, the technical analyst will consult with the agency’s seismologist on whether the permit request should be denied or be allowed a minimal amount of disposal (10,000 barrels per day). The AI process, which has a high accuracy rate, assists the technical analyst, who reviews the data and ultimately makes the final judgment.

“Over time, since we are accruing more data every day, we will be able to produce more accurate models by feeding the machine learning algorithm more data,” said Sean Avitt, Manager of the UIC Department. “It’s not a replacement for our technical analysts. It’s a tool that not only allows them to do their jobs more quickly, but it helps them make the best possible decision on each seismic review.”

The GWPC Excellence in UIC Award is a new award to recognize major advances by state UIC programs in management, permitting or other aspects of the program.

For more information on Texas seismicity reviews, CLICK HERE.


October 25, 2022
8:00 am - 5:00 pm