Southeastern Section - 66th Annual Meeting - 2017

Paper No. 22-5
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


BESS, Maddie, Physics, Astronomy, Geology, Berry College, 2277 Martha Berry Highway NW, Mount Berry, GA 30149 and JOVANELLY, Tamie J., Physics, Astronomy, Geology, Berry College, 2277 Martha Berry Hwy, Mount Berry, GA 30149,

Using the resources provided by the Synovus Scholarship at Berry College, I started an Education & Outreach project that offered a free public lecture to communities in Northwest Georgia. These areas are being approached by oil and gas excavators to explore natural gas contained within the Conasauga shale formation (Floyd, Gordon, Chattoga, and Whitefield Counties) and Valley & Ridge shale formation (Dade, Walker, Catoosa, Murray, Bartow, Polk Counties). These shale units have been projected to contain 625 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. To date, natural gas has not yet been mass extracted in Northwest Georgia. As a result, rural communities may have limited knowledge of the fracturing process, procedures, and long term effects to the environment and land-value once mineral rights are sold.

The purpose of my presentation was to present non-biased information in an understandable format citing peer-reviewed, scientific data. My goal was to start conversations about fracking and to educate these communities on the geology of the area so they could make informed decisions about the issue.

In the fall of 2016, I spoke at nine venues, including seven Northwest Georgia libraries within the shale units and two organizations. For the venue I held in Rome, I invited a panel that answered questions from the audience, consisting of the Georgia state geologist, the owner of the Buckeye Exploration Company, a Rome city planner, the advocacy and communications director of the Coosa River Basin Initiative, and a local lawyer well versed in drilling and well litigation. Attendance at my presentations averaged around 10 people, with the exception of 90 people at the Rome event and 45 people at the Calhoun Rotary Club.

During my project, I found many community members knew little to nothing about fracking and had many misconceptions and questions about the process. I received positive feedback from attendants, praising me for the neutral, informative nature of my presentation and easily understandable explanation of the fracking process. I hope my presentations in Northwest Georgia will inspire communities and its citizens to continue the conversation about fracking and its implications for landowners and the local environment, and I plan to stay informed on such a critical issue so I can continue my education and outreach project.