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Shale gas is a key source of onshore domestic energy for the United States and production of this resource is increasing rapidly. Development and extraction of shale gas requires hydraulic fracturing, which entails horizontal drilling, perforation of steel casing and cement grout using explosive charges, and expansion of fractures using fluids under high pressure. Concern over potential environmental effects of shale gas development is growing and based on a recent review there is very little information in the scientific literature on potential environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing. We propose to conduct the first broad scale, data-based assessment of the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing on water...
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Wetlands provide many important ecosystem services, including wildlife habitat, water purification, flood protection, and carbon metabolism. Our ability to manage these services and predict the long-term health of wetlands is strongly linked to their carbon fluxes, of which methane (CH4) is a key component. Natural wetlands emit approximately 30% of global CH4 emissions, as their waterlogged soils create ideal conditions for CH4 production. They are also the largest, and potentially most uncertain, natural source of CH4 to the atmosphere. To understand and predict CH4 fluxes across wetlands globally, we propose the first synthesis of CH4 flux tower data accompanying a global database of CH4 emissions. By taking...
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Fibrous erionite, a zeolite mineral, has been designated as a human carcinogen by the World Health Organization and is believed to be the cause of extraordinarily high rates of malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos - related diseases in several villages in Central Turkey. A recent study by the University of Hawaii in collaboration with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency in Dunn County, North Dakota has demonstrated similar human exposures to fibrous erionite as those in found in Turkey. The source of these exposures is an erionite - bearing volcanic tuff that has been mined, crushed, and used to gravel hundreds of miles of roads. While elevated rates of mesothelioma are not yet apparent in North Dakota,...
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Resource assessments constitute a key part of the USGS mission, and represent a crucial contribution toward Department of the Interior (DOI) and broader Federal objectives. Current USGS energy and mineral assessment methods evaluate total technically recoverable resources (energy) or economically exploitable materials (minerals); the fiscal year 2010 budget for this work is $82M. To help stakeholders respond to escalating national and worldwide demand for energy, mineral, water, and biological resources, the USGS will expand existing assessment methods to include the environmental and human-health impacts of resource extraction and use, along with multi-resource dependencies and conflicts. This Powell Center working...
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This proposal brings together biologists and geoscientists to evaluate the evolution of stress tolerance and adaptation to extreme environments in plants. Stress tolerance has been studied mainly from a physiological perspective using laboratory and field experiments. In contrast, this project will take a combined environmental and evolutionary perspective using national public databases and a “big data” approach. Thus the proposal will illustrate an application of spatially integrated big datasets for basic research, a synthesis goal of the Powell Center. We will use the geochemical and mineralogical data from the USGS Soil Geochemical Landscapes of the Conterminous United States Project, digital elevation and...
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Fluid injection induced seismicity has been reported since the 1960s. There are currently more than 150,000 injection wells associated with oil and gas production in 34 states in the conterminous US. Pore pressure disturbance caused by injection is generally considered the culprit for injection induced seismicity, but, not all injection causes seismicity. It is not well understood what mechanical and hydrologic conditions cause some sites to be more prone than others to seismicity. The objectives of this proposed research are to utilize existing data on fluid injection and seismicity to (1) identify spatial and temporal correlations between fluid injection and induced seismicity; (2) conduct a hydro-mechanical modeling...