NSF grant allows for consolidation and maintenance of collected water data in region
Development of a database that will be able to track potential impacts of Marcellus Shale activity on water quality is the focus of a new $750,000 research collaboration led by Penn State University researchers.
Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Marcellus Shale Research Network will consolidate and routinely update water data being collected by watershed groups, government agencies, industry stakeholders and universities as a searchable database. The project also will facilitate and train additional community groups in how to organize, collect and interpret water data.
“Significant data collection is occurring through the Marcellus Shale region, but synthesis of that data into useful knowledge is needed,” said Susan Brantley, principal investigator and director of Penn State's Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. “Our database will not only establish background concentrations but enable assessment of impacts across the Marcellus Shale extraction region.”
Other collaborators include researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Bucknell University as well as Dickinson College, which has been training community groups to organize, collect and interpret water data through its Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring group. The Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Sciences Inc. will develop the database.
The rapid development of the Marcellus Shale has prompted interest in collecting and documenting pre-drilling surface water quality. The Marcellus Shale Research Network will not only identify all entities collecting water data but will also create a sustainable network among those groups. Coordination of these efforts could lead to more extensive sampling and enhance development of long-term data records, both of which will aid in tracking environmental monitoring. Given human impacts, the need for such networks is critical, Brantley said.