Coffee Hour: Sharing Water Quality Data in Pennsylvania ...

Friday, September 13, 2013 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m. The talk begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.

Sharing Water Quality Data in Pennsylvania: From the Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory to Areas of Marcellus Shale Development

Penn State has a long history of watershed research. For example, the College of Agricultural Sciences began investigating the local Shale Hills catchment in the 1970s. Research at Shale Hills led to the establishment of a Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) in the mid 2000s.  The catchment, underlain by shale, is the focus of researchers who study water, energy, solute, and sediment fluxes.  As a satellite of the CZO, another study site was established where Marcellus shale outcrops, weathering to soil.  All data from the CZO are shared online. During the establishment of the Marcellus site, the exploitation of natural gas in deeply buried Marcellus shale began to accelerate in Pennsylvania. CZO researchers recognized that their fundamental research at the CZO could lead to the applied knowledge needed by decision makers concerning aspects of gas development impact. 

As significant public controversy developed in response to the use of hydrofracturing in Pennsylvania, Penn State researchers teamed with other universities, government agencies, and citizen scientists to run the ShaleNetwork ( This NSF-funded research collaboration network is finding, collating, sharing, publishing, and exploring data related to water quality and quantity in areas that are exploiting shale gas.

Overall, it is clear that sharing data is one way to build bridges among decision makers, scientists, and citizens to understand issues related to sustainabile development of energy resources in the face of issues related to water quality and quantity.

 About the speaker

brantley sueSusan L. Brantley serves as Distinguished Professor of Geosciences in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State, where she also serves as Director of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute.

Working with undergraduate and graduate students at Penn State, she has taught and investigated all aspects of geochemistry in the classroom, laboratory, and field since 1986.   

Brantley received her A.B. in Chemistry (1980) and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Geological and Geophysical Sciences in 1983 and 1987, respectively, all from Princeton University. She has published more than 160 journal articles and 15 book chapters.

Brantley is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Geological Society of America (GSA), the Geochemical Society, the European Association of Geochemistry, and the International Association for GeoChemistry.