Analysis of Environmental, Economic, and Infrastructure Impacts of Transportation Activities Associated with High Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing Operations in the Marcellus Shale Formation Using the Geospatial Intermodal Freight Transport (GIFT)

The natural gas extraction method, High-Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF), has a significant transportation component that impacts transport infrastructure and rural communities in both positive and negative ways. Estimates provided by the US Energy Information Administration put natural gas reserves of the entire Marcellus Shale formation, the area of interest, at 410.3 trillion cubic feet. While economically benefiting rural areas, where the majority of the wells would be located, there are environmental and social tradeoffs to developing these resources, many of which are associated with transportation activities. Water resources needed to operate a well are typically delivered to the site by truck, as local water resources are often inadequate to provide the 1-8 million gallons needed to operate a HVHF well. Twenty-five to one hundred percent of the fluids used in HVHF operations are recovered as waste fluids and must be treated or disposed of, usually by transporting the waste materials to treatment or disposal facilities by truck, often over considerable distances. Sand, used as a proppant, is delivered to the well site, often from out of state, and this sand is transported multimodally (a combination of truck, rail, and ship). Industry estimates of sand use range from 2.5-7 million pounds per well, with an average use of 5 million pounds per well. There are upwards of 20,000 wells or approved permits in the study area. The researchers propose to analyze the environmental impacts of transporting materials to and from well sites, provide a series of assessments of truck traffic on area roads by road segment, and assess pollution impacts on communities by calculating emission loads, energy usage, and operating costs using the Geospatial Intermodal Freight Transport (GIFT) model, developed by RIT and the University of Delaware. By using the wells, resource supply areas, and waste disposal facilities as a series of origin and destination (OD) pairings, probable transportation routes will be generated and combined with estimated vehicle counts, based on the volume of materials transported and well locations. For roadways, this will help spatially determine impacts of truck traffic on specific road segments and bridges. By altering parameters within the GIFT model, simulations can explore alternative transportation strategies and to help determine the feasibility of centralized facilities or on-site waste recycling. These case studies will enable policy scientists and environmental planners to better understand the impacts associated with the movement of materials in the HVHF industry.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $155813.00
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    Department of Transportation
    1200 New Jersey Avneue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Mooney, Deborah

  • Performing Organizations:

    Rochester Institute of Technology

    Brighton, NY   
  • Principal Investigators:

    Winebrake, James J.

    Korfmacher, Karl

    Hawker, J. Scott

  • Start Date: 20120901
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20140131
  • Source Data: RiP Project 32951

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01494817
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: University Transportation Research Center
  • Contract Numbers: 49997-47-24
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Oct 1 2013 2:48AM