Shale and other unconventional resource plays are getting their own information clearinghouse at the University at Buffalo (UB) College of Arts and Sciences geology department

The goal of the Shale Resources and Society Institute is to provide “accurate, research-based information on the development of shale and other unconventional resources,” said John P. Martin, the institute’s director. The institute will conduct and disseminate peer-reviewed research that can guide policymakers on issues relating to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and the development of energy resources. The institute will also educate students and the public.

The institute’s work will draw on the expertise and perspectives of external research partners and UB faculty members in disciplines ranging from engineering to law and the social sciences, the university said. Activities will focus on four areas relating to shale development: fractures, fluids and migration; groundwater and surface environmental impacts; societal impacts; and policy and regulation. “We’re really trying to provide fact-based, objective information,” Martin said. “We’re guided by science.”

“Many people in New York State have a strong opinion on this issue,” said Robert Jacobi, the center’s co-director and a UB professor of geology. “We want to become a valuable community resource where anyone can come and read about current research, outreach and education, and have a feeling that they can trust these data.”

Martin said the institute plans to seek funding from sources including industry and individuals, as well as agencies that support scientific research relating to energy. Future plans include establishing a management committee for the institute that includes the voices of environmental organizations and other stakeholders.

In addition to serving as director of the Shale Resources and Society Institute, Martin is the founder and principal consultant of JPMartin Energy Strategy LLC, which provides strategic planning, resource evaluation and other services to the energy industry, academic institutions and governments.

Prior to forming the consultancy in 2011, Martin spent 17 years working on energy research and policy issues at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and developed a series of projects targeting oil and gas resources, renewable energy development and environmental mitigation.

Jacobi, a field and lab geoscientist, has extensive experience in academia and industry. A member of UB’s faculty since 1980, he has more than 30 years of experience teaching the structure, tectonics and evolution of North America, marine geology and geophysics, sedimentology and stratigraphy.

Jacobi’s current research focus includes identifying, understanding and predicting the trends of faults, fractures and folds in black shales. Jacobi also is senior geology advisor for EQT Production, a Pittsburgh-based energy company. He recently consulted for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation concerning fracking, with respect to faults and potential seismic activity.