Exploring the potential effects of shale oil and gas development on freshwaters

Science Center Objects

Widespread shale oil and gas (unconventional oil and gas, UOG) has only recently begun and many gaps in our knowledge of its potential effects to freshwaters exist. We conducted several studies aimed at filling these gaps, providing data on the rates and volumes of materials spilled, proximity of spills to important ecosystems, and overall production of wastes. These data together with current UOG development and future build-out scenarios and information on ecosystems and key species of interest were used to identify vulnerable or at-risk ecosystems with a particular focus on streams and rivers. Results from this project can aid in management of ecosystems and can be incorporated into environmental assessments or conservation and restoration goals.

The overarching goal of this project is to better understand the potential effects that shale oil and gas development may have on associated freshwater ecosystems and to develop models designed to identify possible vulnerable and at-risk ecosystems.


Night photo of drilling unit

Night photograph of a drilling unit in Bradford County, PA in 2013.

(Credit: Kelly O. Maloney, USGS Leetown Science Center. Public domain.)