[The following blog post was written by David J. Bertuca, Map Librarian.]
Please excuse the pun… Less than a year ago, I was assisting post-graduate students trying to locate decent maps that showed the Marcellus Shale region of the Northern Appalachians. Virtually no maps could be found that provided the data needed for their research. Six months later, maps and GIS data became available covering many aspects of this area.
The shale layers in the World are becoming important as they hold oil and gas reserves that have been, until recently, uneconomical to harvest. Now that methods have been developed that make for economic production, the issues surrounding the effect on the environment are creating great interest and concern. This interest has created a wealth of maps and data that we can collect to assist our studies.
Below are some websites that provide maps, GIS data, and other resources that are for and against hydraulic fracturing. Many more organizations, companies, and public interest groups are developing resources; the selection below are among the more notable.
“Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is the process of taking millions of gallons of water, mixing it with tens of thousands of gallons of chemicals – including known carcinogens – and pumping it all underground at extreme pressure to break up rock formations and release oil or natural gas. New techniques and technologies used in the process are more intensive and riskier than conventional drilling, making fracking more dangerous than ever.” —Research/Facts page, Americans Against Fracking website.
Map the Movement (Americans Against Fracking)
Americans Against Fracking is comprised of a number of organizations dedicated to banning drilling and fracking for oil and natural gas to protect shared vital resources for the future. Based on Google maps, this web map shows each of the groups involved in anti-fracking efforts. Each push-pin is a group and may be selected from the map to locate organizations areas of interest.
The map is designed to aid organizations to work together, and to encourage more organizations to join and combine their efforts. The map would be most useful to professionals, municipal and government agencies, and to local public organizations working to raise awareness to the threat of fracking on the environment. This is also useful for high-school through adult learner as it offers a chance to promote citizenship and provides an example of what maps can do to assist such efforts.
“The FracTracker Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the public’s understanding of the impacts of the global shale gas industry by collecting, interpreting, and sharing data and visualizations through our website, FracTracker.org. We partner with citizens, organizations and institutions – allied in a quest for objective, helpful information – to perpetuate awareness and support actions that protect public health, the environment, and socioeconomic well-being.”—Mission Statement
The Fracktracker site includes an organizations list, publications, media resources, and other materials.
Stepping into the Utica Shale (by Sam Malone)
Visit this page to view a map showing shale layers across America and supporting documentation from a presentation on shale-gas production.
FracMapper Mapping Tool
On this page is an index of the most requested maps of unconventional well data, produced by the FracTracker Alliance. These maps are good for showing in presentations, in papers, and for other uses where visuals can help state a position.
U.S. Shale Gas Basins
Interactive GIS showing shale basins and various layers relating to gas production.
Find a Well (FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry)
This interactive map allows you to search for shale gas wells that are operating in the U.S. it allows you to search down to a specific well, then download a report and data on that well. the map also lets you see how many wells there are in your search (e.g., Pennsylvania = 2,457 wells). On the map, clicking on a numbered marker immediately expands to the next level of markers, and so on until individual wells are shown (as drops). Clicking on this marker brings up an ID for the well and offers a pdf brief report to download.
The only down-side to this database is that the entries are voluntary by the drilling company so some wells may not be registered.
The issues surrounding oil and gas extraction are becoming greater than ever before. These and other resources will be useful for research and for activist-related activities.