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The Science of Shale Gas/Wet Gas/Oil: The Latest Evidence on Leaky Wells, Methane Emissions, and Implications for Energy Policy

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Posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Westminster College welcomes Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering Emeritus and a Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University, in an interactive presentation via webcast. The presentation is at 7 p.m., Wednesday, September 23, in the Witherspoon Lakeview Room in McKelvey Campus Center. The event is free and open to the public.

In his presentation, “The Science of Shale Gas/Wet Gas/Oil: The Latest Evidence on Leaky Wells, Methane Emissions, and Implications for Energy Policy,” Ingraffea will explore some myths and realities concerning large-scale development of the unconventional natural gas/wet gas/oil resource in shale deposits. On a local scale, these concern geological aspects of the plays, and the resulting development and use of directional drilling, high-volume, slickwater, hydraulic fracturing, multi-well clustered pad arrangements, and the impacts of these technologies on waste production and disposal, and possible contamination of water supplies. On a global scale, we will also explore the cumulative impact of unconventional gas development on greenhouse gas loading of the atmosphere. This loading involves technical, scientific, and policy questions that will be identified and partially answered.

"Wilmington Township supervisors are working on changes to zoning ordinances, which may allow fracking to occur right in our vicinity,” said Helen Boylan, professor of chemistry and chair of environmental studies. “Now, more than ever, it is essential that students and community members become educated on the science, policies, and implications of hydraulic fracturing. Dr. Ingraffea will be sharing an important perspective on this contentious topic."

Dr. Ingraffea is the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering Emeritus and a Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University where he has been since 1977. He holds a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Notre Dame, an M.S. in Civil Engineering from Polytechnic Institute of New York, and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado. Dr. Ingraffea’s research concentrates on computer simulation and physical testing of complex fracturing processes. 

He and his students performed pioneering research in the use of interactive computer graphics and realistic representational methods in computational fracture mechanics.  He has authored with his students and research associates over 250 papers in these areas, and is Past-Director of the Cornell Fracture Group ( Since 1977, he has been a principal or co-principal investigator on over $36M in R&D projects from the NSF, EXXON, NASA Langley, Nichols Research, NASA Glenn, AFOSR, FAA, Kodak, U. S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, U.S. Dept. of Transportation, IBM, Schlumberger, Gas Technology Institute, Sandia National Laboratories, the Association of Iron and Steel Engineers, General Dynamics, Boeing, Caterpillar Tractor, DARPA, and Northrop Grumman. 

Professor Ingraffea was a member of the first group of Presidential Young Investigators named by the National Science Foundation in 1984. For his research achievements in hydraulic fracturing he has won the International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics "1994 Significant Paper Award", and he has twice won the National Research Council/U.S. National Committee for Rock Mechanics Award for Research in Rock Mechanics (1978, 1991). He became a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1991, and named the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering at Cornell in 1992.  

His group won a NASA Group Achievement Award in 1996, and a NASA Aviation Safety /Turning Goals into Reality Award in 1999 for its work on the aging aircraft problem. He became Co-Editor-in-Chief of Engineering Fracture Mechanics in 2005. In 2006, he won ASTM’s George Irwin Medal for outstanding research in fracture mechanics, and in 2009 was named a Fellow of the International Congress on Fracture.  TIME Magazine named him one of its “People Who Mattered” in 2011, and he became the first president of Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Inc. ( in that same year. He is a co-author of recent papers on wellbore integrity in Pennsylvania (2014), on methane emissions (2011), and on conversion of New York (2012) and California (2014) to wind/sun/water power for all energy uses in the next few decades.

The event is organized by Environmental Programs at Westminster College and the Lawrence and Mercer ALLARM (Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring) Program. ALLARM student volunteers Jamie Linderman (’16), Christina Mauri (’16), and Kelsey Kilbane (’16) will present posters and a display of their work at this event.

For more information, contact Boylan at or 724-946-6293.

To watch the event on live stream, visit and click "watch live.