A GIS MODEL OF HUMAN VULNERABILITY TO SHALE GAS DEVELOPMENT IN PENNSYLVANIA
Gross, Jennifer Elizabeth
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The impacts of unconventional natural gas development such as hydraulic fracturing are controversial with surface and ground water contamination being at the forefront of citizens' concerns. I have developed a framework for modeling the complex relationship between shale gas development and social-ecological systems using subwatersheds as my base unit of measurement. I used a Geographical Information System (GIS) to model variables of pressure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity in relation to shale gas development and identified the subwatersheds that are most vulnerable to the impacts. Through six different vulnerability analyses, I have identified the most vulnerable subwatersheds to be Browns Creek, Parsley Creek-South Fork Tenmile Creek, Larry's Creek-West Branch Susquehanna River, Pine Creek-West Branch Susquehanna River, South Branch Sugar Creek, and Upper Tioga River. There are 18,349 people that live within the 6 most vulnerable subwatersheds. There were a total of 218 subwatersheds that fell within the highest percentile for vulnerability representing 7 % of the subwatersheds in the study area and 15 % of the subwatersheds with flowing waters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A total of 1,117,988 people live within subwatersheds classified as the most vulnerable to negative impacts from shale gas development in Pennsylvania.