Marcellus Research Network to Track Water Quality

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — 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 researchers.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, 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 throughout 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.”

The project also will examine the interplay between scientists and community watershed groups — that is, community members without formal scientific training — in data collection and knowledge generation. Penn State researcher Kathy Brasier is leading the effort to study how citizen groups have been organizing and growing in the region of shale activity.

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, and more than 700 volunteers are engaged in that activity. But county and state agencies also are tracking surface water data as are several colleges and universities.

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.

“This network will lay the groundwork for a monitoring approach that can track impacts of Marcellus Shale development across multiple ecological, social and economic attributes of the region — and provide a model for other regions,” Brantley added.

Of particular interest for the network are constituents regulated by the state and often associated with Marcellus Shale development including total dissolved solids, chlorides, barium and strontium, said David Yoxtheimer, extension associate with the Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research and member of the research team.

In addition to geochemical and hydrological data, the research network also will explore the role of community watershed organizations in building scientific understanding and knowledge for citizen scientists about the impacts of Marcellus Shale.

Article Courtesy of Penn State Live

Photo Courtesy of Gerry Dincher

For more information, please contact:
Margaret Hopkins

Andrea Elyse Messer

Saturday Morning Sports Links

We have three great local football match-ups on tap for today.

The rain may have postponed the Bloomsburg High School Panthers’ game versus Hughesville yesterday, but it gives us all a second chance to get to Hughesville and support the Panthers tonight.  The game is at Hughesville Junior/Senior High School at 7:00 PM. Also, you should definitely take a few minutes and read about quarterback Blake Rankin and the Panthers overcoming the adversity of the flood in this great Reading Eagle article.

The disastrous flood which moved foundations and canceled the traditional Bloomsburg Fair, hasn’t derailed a Panthers squad which has stuck together like a family and suffered just their first loss of the season Friday night to Southern Columbia. That’s a miracle of sorts for a team that was displaced from their practice facility at Bloomsburg High School, losing most of its equipment and its field house.  The Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets as well as area high schools have made donations to the Bloomsburg football program. The Jets donated 300 boxes of cleats. “Very difficult time for people in our area and we were very fortunate as a football team that only two kids were affected,” Rankin said. Underneath the mud and water that ravaged Bloomsburg is a Division-I bound quarterback. Earlier this year, Rankin gave a verbal commitment to play quarterback at Rutgers University.

At the college level, the number three Bloomsburg University Huskies will play the Shippensburg Red Raiders at 1 p.m., with pregame coverage starting at 12:45 p.m.  If you can’t make  it to Redman Stadium, watch the game via Bloomsburg University’s Live Streaming Channel.

Also, we have homecoming in Happy Valley today as the Penn State Nittany Lions take on the Purdue Boilermakers  at 12:00 PM.  If you aren’t in State College tailgating or can’t catch the game on the Big Ten Network, check out or follow Onward State on Twitter for live tweets of the play-by-play action.

Photo Courtesy of Anderson Mancini