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Paleontological Research Institution Publishes “The Science Beneath the Surface: A Very Short Guide to the Marcellus Shale”

New book from PRI takes an unbiased look at the science of the rock formation

(October 21, 2013 – Ithaca, NY) Staff members Dr. Don Duggan-Haas, Dr. Robert M. Ross, and Dr. Warren D. Allmon at the Paleontological Research Institution have written a new book entitled The Science Beneath the Surface: A Very Short Guide to the Marcellus Shale, which offers an objective scientific perspective on this complex and controversial topic. The Marcellus Shale is a vast rock formation that holds a huge volume of natural gas and is currently at the center of one of the most controversial natural resources issues of our time. This is primarily because of the unconventional method used to extract gas from the shale, a process known as “slickwater horizontal high-volume hydraulic fracturing” – more commonly called “hydrofracking.”

Concerns about how widespread use of the practice will affect the natural environment, especially freshwater at the local and regional levels and climate at the global level, have thrust geology into the public view in a way seldom otherwise experienced. This book reviews the major science and technology issues around this complex topic, offering impartial, evidence-based, thought-provoking information to help citizens decide what to do.

Acclaim for the book from other authors who write about the issues surrounding the Marcellus Shale, such as Seamus McGraw, author of The End of the Country: Dispatches from the Frack Zone states: “It is perhaps the most balanced, authoritative and — most importantly, accessible — summary I’ve come across of what we know about unconventional gas development in the Marcellus and beyond, what we don’t know, and what we need to know. I heartily recommend this book, not just to those teaching about the Marcellus, but to laymen — like me — eager to learn more about it.” In regards to the fact that the book avoids the issue of debate and looks specifically at the science, Tom Wilbur, journalist and author of Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale, said “This is an impressive collection of information that brings the complexity and scale of the issue down to the fundamentals, stripped of ideology and hype. I know of no other work that tackles the broad issues with this degree of scope, detail, and neutrality. This approach is hugely needed and will greatly serve the public.”

The Science Beneath the Surface: A Very Short Guide to the Marcellus Shale is published by the Paleontological Research Institution with support from federal formula funds administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and grants from the National Science Foundation. It will be available October 21, 2013. The book is 252 pages with a retail price of $18 in the Museum of the Earth Museum Store, or on the website: www.priweb.org/publications. Pre-order copies are available for $14 when ordered during the month of October.

About the Authors:

Don Duggan-Haas received his bachelor’s degree in Physics from State University of New York – Geneseo, his M.S. in Earth Science Education from the State University of New York – Cortland, and his Ph.D. in Curriculum, Teaching, and Educational Policy from Michigan State University. He is currently Director of Teacher Programming at the Paleontological Research Institution in Ithaca, New York.

Robert M. Ross received his bachelor’s degree in Geological Sciences from Case Western Reserve University, and his Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard University. Since 1997, he has overseen the education program at the Paleontological Research Institution in Ithaca, New York, most recently as Associate Director for Outreach.

Warren D. Allmon received his bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences from Dartmouth College and his Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard University. Since 1992, he has been Director of the Paleontological Research institution in Ithaca, New York and, since 2008, the Hunter R. Rawlings III Professor of Paleontology at Cornell University.

About Paleontological Research Institution:

Founded in 1932, the Paleontological Research Institution has outstanding programs in research, collections, publications, and public education. The Institution cares for a collection of nearly three million specimens (one of the 10 largest in the U.S.), and publishes Bulletins of American Paleontology, the oldest paleontological journal in the Western Hemisphere, begun in 1895. PRI is a national leader in the development of informal (i.e., outside the classroom) Earth science education resources for educators and the general public. PRI and its two public venues for education, the Museum of the Earth and the Cayuga Nature Center, are separate from, but formally affiliated with Cornell University, and interact closely with numerous University departments in research, teaching, and public outreach.

ISBN: 978-0-87710-502-2
PRI Special Publication #43
252 pp.; $18.00
Published by the Paleontological Research Institution, 2013