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B.A. 2004.Geology, University of Colorado
B.A. 2004. Environmental Studies, University of Colorado
M.S. 2011. Geology, Montana State University
I am interested in how subsurface geology controls the rate of groundwater movement and the dispersion of associated contaminates in glacial environments. In addition, I am interested in how unmanned aerial vehicles can be used to support various research objectives.
Science and Products
Brine Contamination to Plains and Potholes Environments from Energy Development in the Williston Basin
Geologic processes from the last ice age have generated extensive areas of pothole wetlands in several Montana landscapes. The Laurentide ice sheet, originating in the Northwest Territories, provided the dominant force in eastern Montana. Similar landscapes developed in the broad valleys of western Montana through the actions of the Cordilleran ice sheet, originating in the mountains of...
Scientists at NOROCK are actively exploring the use of small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) for sensor testing and scientific data collection. We are using the same sUAS deployed by the US Department of Defense. These systems have proven their utility in reconnaissance missions and are now finding a second life in scientific research.
Effects of persistent energy-related brine contamination on amphibian abundance in national wildlife refuge wetlands
To inform sustainable energy development, it is important to understand the ecological effects of historical and current production practices and the persistence of those effects. The Williston Basin is one of North America's largest oil production areas and overlaps the Prairie Pothole Region, an area densely...Hossack, Blake R.; Smalling, Kelly L.; Anderson, Chauncey W.; Preston, Todd M.; Cozzarelli, Isabelle M.; Honeycutt, R. Ken
Effects of brine contamination from energy development on wetland macroinvertebrate community structure in the Prairie Pothole Region
Wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) of North America support macroinvertebrate communities that are integral to local food webs and important to breeding waterfowl. Macroinvertebrates in PPR wetlands are primarily generalists and well adapted to within and among year changes in water permanence and salinity. The Williston Basin, a major...Preston, Todd M.; Borgreen, Michael J.; Ray, Andrew M.
Oil and gas development footprint in the Piceance Basin, western Colorado
Understanding long-term implications of energy development on ecosystem functionrequires establishing regional datasets to quantify past development and determine relationships to predict future development. The Piceance Basin in western Colorado has a history of energy production and development is expected to continue into the foreseeable future...Martinez, Cericia D.; Preston, Todd M.
Effects of energy development on wetland plants and macroinvertebrate communities in Prairie Pothole Region wetlands
Energy production in the Williston Basin, USA, results in the coproduction of highly saline, sodium chloride-dominated water (brine). The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) overlies the northeastern portion of the Williston Basin. Although PPR wetlands span a range of salinity, the dominant salt is sodium sulfate, and salinities are much lower than...Preston, Todd M.; Ray, Andrew M.
Evaluating the effectiveness of wildlife detection and observation technologies at a solar power tower facility
Solar power towers produce electrical energy from sunlight at an industrial scale. Little is known about the effects of this technology on flying animals and few methods exist for automatically detecting or observing wildlife at solar towers and other tall anthropogenic structures. Smoking objects are sometimes observed co-occurring with reflected...Diehl, Robert H.; Valdez, Ernest W.; Preston, Todd M.; Wellik, Mike J.; Cryan, Paul
Land cover changes associated with recent energy development in the Williston Basin; Northern Great Plains, USA
The Williston Basin in the Northern Great Plains has experienced rapid energy development since 2000. To evaluate the land cover changes resulting from recent (2000 – 2015) development, the area and previous land cover of all well pads (pads) constructed during this time was determined, the amount of disturbed and reclaimed land adjacent to...Preston, Todd M.; Kim, Kevin
Presence and abundance of non-native plant species associated with recent energy development in the Williston Basin
The Williston Basin, located in the Northern Great Plains, is experiencing rapid energy development with North Dakota and Montana being the epicenter of current and projected development in the USA. The average single-bore well pad is 5 acres with an estimated 58,485 wells in North Dakota alone. This landscape-level disturbance may provide a...Preston, Todd M.
Experimental flights using a small unmanned aircraft system for mapping emergent sandbars
The US Geological Survey and Parallel Inc. conducted experimental flights with the Tarantula Hawk (T-Hawk) unmanned aircraft system (UAS ) at the Dyer and Cottonwood Ranch properties located along reaches of the Platte River near Overton, Nebraska, in July 2013. We equipped the T-Hawk UAS platform with a consumer-grade digital camera to...Kinzel, Paul J.; Bauer, Mark A.; Feller, Mark R.; Holmquist-Johnson, Christopher; Preston, Todd
Risk assessment of brine contamination to aquatic resources from energy development in glacial drift deposits: Williston Basin, USA
Contamination to aquatic resources from co-produced water (brine) associated with energy development has been documented in the northeastern portion of the Williston Basin; an area mantled by glacial drift. The presence and magnitude of brine contamination can be determined using the contamination index (CI) value from water samples. Recently, the...Preston, Todd M.; Chesley-Preston, Tara
Brine contamination to aquatic resources from oil and gas development in the Williston Basin, United States
The Williston Basin, which includes parts of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota in the United States and the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan in Canada, has been a leading domestic oil and gas producing region for more than one-half a century. Currently, there are renewed efforts to develop oil and gas resources from deep geologic...Gleason, Robert A.; Tangen, Brian A.; Gleason, Robert A.; Contributions by Chesley-Preston, Tara L.; Coleman, James L.; Haines, Seth S.; Jenni, Karen E.; Nieman, Timothy L.; Peterman, Zell E.; van der Burg, Max Post; Preston, Todd M.; Smith, Bruce D.; Tangen, Brian A.; Thamke, Joanna N.
A GIS-based vulnerability assessment of brine contamination to aquatic resources from oil and gas development in eastern Sheridan County, Montana
Water (brine) co-produced with oil in the Williston Basin is some of the most saline in the nation. The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), characterized by glacial sediments and numerous wetlands, covers the northern and eastern portion of the Williston Basin. Sheridan County, Montana, lies within the PPR and has a documented history of brine...Preston, Todd M.; Chesley-Preston, Tara L.; Thamke, Joanna N.
Sediment accretion rates and sediment composition in Prairie Pothole wetlands under varying land use practices, Montana, United States
Increased sedimentation and nutrient cycle changes in Prairie Pothole Region wetlands associated with agriculture threaten the permanence and ecological functionality of these important resources. To determine the effects of land use on sedimentation and nutrient cycling, soil cores were analyzed for cesium-137 (137Cs), lead-210 (210Pb), and...Preston, T.M.; Sojda, R.S.; Gleason, R.A.
"It’s a grand slam for all involved,” said Dawn Childs, USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units. “Recent high school graduates with special needs get real-world experience while helping USGS scientists on projects ranging from grizzly bears and energy to historic documents and bird migration. And a school system gets to successfully train students to enter the workforce."
The presence of non-native plant species is significantly greater adjacent to oil well pads than in non-developed areas of the Williston Basin, according to a first-of-its-kind U.S. Geological Survey study for this area.