UNIVERSITY PARK – A 100 foot core extracted from the south ridge of the Shale Hills CZO catchment in central Pennsylvania was one of the items on display at Penn State’s Earth and Environmental Systems Institute recently during this year’s Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory “All Hands” meeting.
The Penn State project – known as SSHCZO – is focused on a section of Stone Valley in Huntingdon County. It’s part of a National Science Foundation initiative aimed at understanding the “critical zone” – the Earth’s outer skin that sustains life.
The May meeting of faculty, students and post-doctorate researchers who are part of the Penn State project included an opening seminar by invited guest Kip Solomon, a groundwater hydrologist at the University of Utah, presentations on the latest research and a poster session. The core on hand was drilled from a section of the Rose Hill Shale and will provide researchers with a way to investigate the chemistry and mineralogy of that section of earth and how it changed over time.
Other presentations this year included observations of the groundwater beneath the Shale Hills CZO; a profile of shale soil, micrometeorology at Shale Hills and a new approach to quantifying the pore structure of rocks.
“The ‘Alll Hands’ meeting gives the faculty, students and post-doctorates who are part of the CZO a chance to share their recent activities and findings with each other and discuss their new ideas and next steps,” said Jennifer Williams, a research assistant at Penn State and program and data coordinator of SSHCZO.
The SSHCZO includes nine faculty, five post-doctoral researchers, eight graduate students and three undergraduates. It is one of six projects that are part of the national initiative.