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Brian N Shaffer, PG

Brian N. Shaffer, P.G. is a Supervisory Geologist with the USGS and Co-Project Chief of the Evolving Utilization of Solid Energy Fuels Project.  Utilizing his 26+ years of experience as a geologist in the coal industry, he leads the Project's research efforts to assess the quantity, quality, location, and accessibility of the Nation’s remaining recoverable coal resour

Career History:

Since January, 2016, Brian has been a Supervisory Geologist for the USGS in the Central Energy Resources Science Center in Denver, CO. He is Co-Project Chief for the Evolving Utilization of Solid Energy Fuels Project, tasked with assessing the coal resources and reserves of the United States.  Currently, the U.S. Coal Resources and Reserves Assessment Project is conducting assessment studies in the Yampa coal field in northwestern Colorado and Williston Basin in Montana and North Dakota.  Team members are also conducting research to develop geostatistical methods for quantifying geological uncertainty in coal resource assessments and utilizing geostatistical methods to develop equations to predict values for certain coal quality parameters. 

Previously, Brian was the Senior Manager Geology of the Northern Appalachian Region (NAPP) for Alpha Natural Resources.  He began his career in 1989 as a geology co-op student for Cyprus Coal Company at Emerald Mine in Waynesburg, PA.  Starting in 1990, Brian worked at the Cyprus Coal Company's Emerald Mine and Cumberland Mine, in Greene County, PA, where he gained experience in defining, mapping, and interpreting underground geologic conditions and ground control issues associated with longwall coal mining operations.  Brian was also involved in the exploration and geologic mapping of the Upper Freeport, Greene Hill, and Greene Manor reserve blocks in Greene County for Cyprus-Amax and Foundation Coal Companies.  As Senior Manager Geology, Brian supervised a team of three geologists that managed exploration and geologic mapping activities, conducted reserve assessments, and modeled geologic and coal quality trends for the Emerald and Cumberland longwall deep mines, as well as for Amfire Mining, which produced both thermal and metallurgical coal from numerous underground and surface mines in central Pennsylvania.  He has over 26 years of experience as a geologist in the coal industry and has worked in underground coal mines in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah.    

Brian has worked as a part time instructor for Waynesburg University, where he taught physical geology courses.  He also has worked as a teaching assistant in the Department of Geography and Geology at West Virginia University.


Education and Certifications

  • Juniata College - B.S. Degree in Geology, 1988.

  • West Virginia University - M.S. Degree in Geology, 1992.  Thesis research: Geology and depositional environment of the Upper Freeport coal bed in northeastern Greene County, PA.

  • Academic interests include historical geology, stratigraphy, sedimentology, coal geology, and paleoclimates.

Affiliations and Memberships*

  • Registered professional geologist in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

  • Certified mine examiner in the Commonwealth of PA.

  • Certified MSHA instructor for underground hazard recognition training.

  • Member of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME)

  • Member of the Pittsburgh Section of SME, serving on the Section's Board of Directors from 2003 through 2009. Secretary of the Pittsburgh Section from 2009-2010 and Treasurer from 2011-2012.  

  • Chairman of the Pittsburgh Section of SME in 2013-2014 and Past Chair in 2015-2016.   Transferred to the Colorado Section of SME in 2016. 

  • Pittsburgh Section Distinguished Member in 2015. 

  • Currently serving on the SME Coal & Energy Division’s Executive Committee and was the chairman of the Coal & Energy Division’s Scholarship Committee, in 2020.

  • Member of the SME Advisory Panel that assisted in the development of the Mining In Society merit badge for the Boy Scouts of America.

  • Served on the Annual Joint Meeting Committee, which organizes the Annual Joint Meeting of the Pittsburgh Section of SME and the Pittsburgh Coal Mining Institute of America (PCMIA) from 2006-2015

  • He was the treasurer for the Annual Joint Meeting from 2009 through 2015 and has been a session chair and co-chair at the meeting. 

  • Member of the Geological Society of America (GSA), serving on the Geology in Industry mentoring panel.

  • Member of the Denver Coal Club.  

Honors and Awards

  • Received the 2010 SME GEM Individual Award for mining and mineral education outreach activities.

Science and Products

*Disclaimer: Listing outside positions with professional scientific organizations on this Staff Profile are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of those professional scientific organizations or their activities by the USGS, Department of the Interior, or U.S. Government