The Frank G. and Jean M. Chesley Lectureship in Geology, presented by Dr. Susan L. Brantley, Evan Pugh University Professor and Barnes Professor of Geosciences
“How fracking affects our water”
“Fracking” of horizontal layers of shale at great depths has ushered in a new era of energy development in the USA. At the same time, shale-gas development has impacted water quality in some locations. In the mid-2000s, public outcry about “fracking” reached a fever pitch. Today, the pushback continues but is more muted. In this talk I will look at what has been learned over the last two decades about water impacts related to shale gas development and fracking, including case studies at individual field sites. Most of my work has focused on Pennsylvania, a state with the longest history of commercial oil extraction in the world, but part of my talk will focus on national observations. Government, universities, and private industry must work more closely with communities to document impacts and understand case examples of contamination. Only with such approaches will we enable the public to make decisions about the “social license” for the industry.
Susan L. Brantley, Evan Pugh University Professor and Barnes Professor of Geosciences at Penn State, investigates chemical, biological, and physical processes associated with the circulation of aqueous fluids in shallow hydrogeologic settings. She is particularly interested in the critical zone – the zone from the top of vegetation canopy to groundwater. Investigations incorporate field and laboratory work, and theoretical modelling of observations. Of particular interest are questions concerning the measurement and prediction of the rates of natural processes, including chemical weathering with and without micro-organisms. Recent work has focused on the effect of microbial life on mineral reactivity, and measuring and modelling how rock turns into regolith.
Sponsored by The Frank G. and Jean M. Chesley Lectureship.