Saturday, July 21, 2012

AASG fact sheet on hydraulic fracturing

AASG released a Fact Sheet on hydraulic fracturing.  The conclusions follow below.

 State geological surveys are important sources of information and expertise related to subsurface geology, water resources, and energy. AASG members regularly monitor and discuss issues related to hydraulic fracturing. Several state surveys have been engaged in investigations of potential freshwater contamination that may have been caused by recent hydraulic fracturing-related activities; others are undertaking research on, and providing information about, hydraulic fracturing. The following points constitute AASG’s position on hydraulic fracturing:

• AASG advocates that comprehensive public information based on sound science and open processes be utilized when formulating energy and environmental policy. We encourage a balanced, independent, fact-based analysis of controversies regarding natural resource development.

• AASG supports and encourages the disclosure of hydraulic fracturing fluids and chemical additives on FracFocus, the hydraulic fracturing chemical registry website, developed by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) and the Groundwater Protection Council (GWPC).

• AASG advocates for better understanding and scientific documentation of our subsurface geology and aquifers, which will result in improved geologic models to help all parties avoid problems that might occur during drilling and hydraulic fracturing activities of oil or gas reservoirs, especially in new fields. This will allow safer and enhanced production of oil and gas.

• AASG is committed to protecting the nation’s public safety and the natural environment, including groundwater and surface-water resources. AASG supports the wise and prudent production of oil and gas resources to help fulfill the nation’s energy needs.

• AASG recognizes the economic and social importance, and the abundance, of oil and gas resources that only can be recovered if reservoir rocks are hydraulically fractured.

• AASG maintains that state oil and gas regulatory agencies are best equipped, through statutory authority, expertise, and experience, to ensure that hydraulic fracturing and all other operations associated with oil and natural gas development proceed in a manner that protects the natural environment, including public safety as well as groundwater and surface-water resources.

• AASG recognizes that the environmental record of hydraulic fracturing activities over the past 60 years has been overwhelmingly positive. AASG also maintains that operators who do not follow regulatory requirements should be appropriately sanctioned and, where appropriate, barred from conducting further oil and gas operations.

• AASG notes that geologic data generally show a significant vertical separation between most oil and natural gas reservoirs targeted for hydraulic fracturing and the shallower freshwater aquifers. In areas where targets of hydraulic fracturing are comparatively close to freshwater aquifers, thorough geologic characterization of the area is warranted and even greater caution should be exercised by operators and regulatory agencies.

• AASG recognizes the fast pace of recent drilling for oil and natural gas and the associated hydraulic fracturing activities. AASG suggests that caution and careful attention to community relations be exercised by operators, contractors, and regulators in the design, review, approval, documentation, implementation, and verification of plans for the drilling, completion, stimulation and production of oil and gas wells.

• AASG encourages continuing work to acquire and maintain local pre-drilling water quality assessment and ongoing information on groundwater quality, and recommends that casing and cementing operations in hydraulically fractured wells be carefully documented by operators, contractors, and regulators.

Monday, July 09, 2012

New State Geologist of Montana named


Butte, MT--Montana Tech announced today the hiring of Dr. John J. Metesh as the Director of the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology (MBMG) and State Geologist. Dr. Metesh will replace retiring Director Ed Deal, who has overseen the MBMG since 1998.

Dr. Metesh is currently Assistant Director of the MBMG at Montana Tech. He holds an earned doctorate and has more than 20 years of progressive experience in project and program development, management, and publication that required supervision and collaboration with the public and scientific community. He has constructed and managed large, complex, single and multi-year budgets under state and Federal guidelines. He has participated in numerous public-policy issues related to metal mining, groundwater, coal, and other natural resources in Montana. He holds a Professional Geologist Certificate with the State of Wisconsin and has published nearly 50 reports, articles, and abstracts related to hydrogeology and geochemistry and wrote many unpublished reports that were relied upon for critical decisions related to mine permitting and mine reclamation.

“John brings a wealth of experience and an intimate knowledge of Montana geology to the position of Director,” explained Dr. Doug Coe, chair of the search committee and dean of the College of Letters, Sciences, and Professional Studies at Montana Tech. “We believe he will continue the history of providing strong leadership for MBMG in their role in providing scientifically sound answers to geologic questions important to Montana.” 

Dr. Metesh obtained his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Montana in 2004. He also holds a master’s degree in Geological Engineering from Montana Tech (1990) and a bachelor’s degree in Earth Science-Geology from Montana State University (1986).

“The Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology represents a unique relationship between service to Montana, research, and academia,” added Dr. Metesh. “As a member of the Bureau and a student of the Montana University System, I have enjoyed the benefits of that relationship and look forward to keeping the tradition strong.”

Dr. Metesh has worked for the MBMG for most of his career. He has held the following positions: Hydrogeologist (1989-1990), Assistant Research Hydrogeologist (1990-1995), Associate Research Hydrogeologist (1995-2003), Senior Research Hydrogeologist (2003-2005), Research Division Chief (2005-2011), and currently Assistant Director (2011-present).

“I deeply appreciate the excellent leadership Dr. Ed Deal has provided the Bureau over the past 14 years,” said Montana Tech Chancellor Don Blackketter. “Tech is very fortunate to have Dr. Metesh assuming the Director position. I am confident in John’s leadership and look forward to working with him.”   

Dr. Metesh will begin his new position at the end of September.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Geologist position at North Dakota Geological Survey

Surface Geologist

            The North Dakota Geological Survey announces a permanent position opening for a geologist.  Successful applicant will be responsible for generating maps and reports on the surface geology of North Dakota. 

            Applicants should have a master’s degree in geology or a bachelor’s degree in geology with five years mapping experience.   Applicants must have strong written and verbal communication skills.  Preference will be given to applicants with experience in the following areas; geologic surface mapping of glacial deposits or Fort Union strata, geologic hazards mapping, and delineation of sand and gravel deposits. 

            The successful applicant will be hired with a salary dependent upon the level of schooling and applicable experience. The State of North Dakota has very competitive health insurance and retirement plans.  Deadline for applications is August 15, 2012, but the position will remain open until filled.

            For more information about the North Dakota Geological Survey and instructions on how to apply for this position, see   The North Dakota Geological Survey is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Congressional briefing on the Virginia earhquake and eastern US risk

 Virginia State Geologist David Spear participated in a Congressional briefing on March 29 on "Faults in the East - New Madrid Fault Zone and Recent Virginia Earthquake - Understanding Risk."   The American Geophysical Union filmed the event and posted it on YouTube.   The briefing was hosted by AGU and the Congressional Hazards Caucus.

It's also available from the State Geologists YouTube channel.

Congressional briefing on 'fracking'

Harvey Thorleifson, the Director of the Minnesota Geological Survey and President Elect of the Association of American State Geologists (AASG), moderated a briefing to the U.S. Congress on June 8 in the Rayburn House Office Building.   The event was filmed by the American Geophysical Union and posted on YouTube, with the following summary:
Hydraulic fracturing is the process of injecting wells with water, sand, and chemicals at very high pressure to produce unconventional oil and natural gas. These resources pose both opportunities and challenges. Join us to learn how USGS and its partners provide information so policy makers and resource managers can make decisions based on sound science.

It is also added to the State Geologists YouTube channel.