Volume 25, No. 4 - WGWA Newsletter, Fourth Quarter 2011

President's Message

Our President is off doing fieldwork this week, so he asked me to send his regrets on not preparing a President's Page.

Hydrofracturing and Induced Seismicity
By Troy Thompson

The issue of a potential connection between hydrofracing or hydrofracturing and earthquake generation is worth addressing if for no other reason then it is getting increasing public attention. At least one group with an interest in the Allegheny National Forest has noted it as a concern relative to Marcellus Shale gas development (ADP, 2011, p. 58). Public attention has been drawn to this potential concern by a recent spate of seismic activity in Arkansas (including a 4.7 magnitude earthquake) apparently caused by the injection disposal of waste water from recent shale gas development activity in the area (NYT, 2011a). The Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission recently ordered the closure of four waste injection wells they believe were connected to the seismic activity (NYT, 2011b). Some have mistakenly attributed this seismic activity to hydrofracturing of shale gas wells in the area. Other people have even tried to draw a connection between the recent Virginia earthquake and the occurrence of Marcellus hydrofracturing in West Virginia 90 miles away.

WGWA Fall Field Trip 2011

On September 17th, the WGWA held their Annual Field Trip and led participants on a treasure hunt Behind the Scenes of Madison Geology. Your newsletter editor, Lee Trotta, was there to photographically document every step of the way. You should have been there too!

CLICK HERE for the full report and pictures

Steve Oberle, Taylor County Conservationist, has been reviewing DNR water well construction reports received between January 1988 and July 2011, and has compiled a summary of well numbers, average well depths, and average well yields for each Wisconsin county. Click to view the list.

A Groundwater Story
By Ralph Neal Smith

I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I'd have anything to do with the Manhattan Project or with the legacy of our nation's spent nuclear fuel rods from the nuclear energy and military industrial complex stored at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sites – mostly at Hanford near Richland, WA. I was moonlighting and just trying to find new markets for phlogopite mica for Jim Carley. I had searched for years for new uses of phlogopite mica when I read Distinguished Professor Sridhar Komarneni and Rustum Roy's U.S. Patent # 4,808,318 (1989) on "A Cesium-Selective Ion Sieve Made by Topotactic Leaching of Phlogopite Mica" and subsequent published research on improved modified sodium fluorophlogopite mica (Na-4 mica).
These attachments go with the story:
Attachment 1
Attachment 2
Attachment 3

Groundwater Quality in Karst - Calumet County Situation
By Lee Trotta

The Soil and Water Conservation Society sponsored a tour of the Calumet County karst on October 13th which started at a small country church outside New Holstein. The day began with a presentation on "The Niagara Escarpment" by Eric Fowle of the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. It neatly placed Calumet County into the context of the international resource which the Escarpment represents. He wowed us with photos of “must visit” places along what locals call "The Ledge". For instance, did you know that heavily industrialized Hamilton, Ontario, has over 100 waterfalls nearby. The Escarpment is also a living resource with rare plant assemblages, rocky havens for thousands of bats, and the oldest forest in North America (1800-year old cedar trees). The water-quality problems in karst dolomite along the Escarpment are common and one approach for controlling pollution incidents might be “conservation geology”. Fowle outlined educational “Ledge Tours” (see WGWA events list), the replacement of traditional agriculture with viticulture, and a “Niagara Escarpment Greenway Plan” as viable conservation efforts.

In Memoriam

Dr. Charles W. "Bill" Fetter, Jr. of Hilton Head Island, SC, age 69, passed away peacefully at his summer home in Sayner, WI on September 10, after a brief battle with cancer. Born in Dayton, OH to the Rev. C.W. Fetter, Sr. and Grace H. Fetter, he was a graduate of DePauw University and earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University. He spent his professional career at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, as a Professor of Geology from 1971-1996, including 16 years as department chairman. Dr. Fetter was also an internationally recognized expert in hydrogeology, working on more than 200 national consulting projects in groundwater supply and contamination.

Board Minutes

Interesting Articles and Other Tidbits on the Web

Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council Year Report 2011

All good things come to those who wait. The Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey has made their Information Circulars freely downloadable from their website at: http://wisconsingeologicalsurvey.org/

"Beware the Killer Aquifers! Please read the following link to help debunk the claim that turbulent aquifer flow can somehow place a "stress" on those people or animals that drink the water. Feel free to submit a followup article to this newsletter."

So where did the vast oceans come from? Did they ooze out of the earth? Did they puddle from constant rainstorms? Read the link below to find details on another theory.

"Mighty Mica" - Synthetic Clay Remediates Radium
Radium is a serious contamination problem in many areas of the United States. A naturally occurring decay product of uranium, radium can break down into radon gas, a highly carcinogenic, colorless, odorless gas. Because it is highly water soluble, radium travels easily into groundwater in areas where it occurs more plentifully in the bedrock. Once in the body, it reacts much like calcium; bonding with bones, it can cause anemia, cataracts, bone cancer, and death. Read More

Conferences, Meetings, and Courses (August to December)

Nov 16: "Science, Art & Infrastructure" 6:00 pm, program by environmental artist, Patricia Johanson who will walk through the processes that transform her art into major works of publicinfrastructure. Presented by The Design Coalition Institute & Overture’s Community Arts Access Program at Overture Center for the Arts, Madison, WI.

Nov 21: "Call for Oral Presentations & Posters for 17th Annual Wetland Conference" on February 22-23,Lake Geneva, WI http://www.wisconsinwetlands.org/

Nov 29-Dec 2: NGWA Expo, Las Vegas, see groundwaterexpo.com for details.

Dec 9: WGWA Holiday party. 6:30 – 9 pm. Thunder Bay Grille, N14 W24130 Tower Place, Pewaukee, WI, No Fee. RSVP by 12/6/11 to rcaudill@naturalrt.com (262.522.1215).

Dec 1–Dec 13: "Renewable Energy Project Development for Municipalities". 10:00 am-3:00 pm. First of 3-part educational series to provide background to help municipal officials, agencies and staff examinepotential for bio-energy project or facility in their community. Fee: $30, lunch provided. timothy.baye@ces.uwex.edu or 608-342-1090. For registration: angela.chopp@ecc.uwex.edu.

Dec 1. Madison, Dane Co UWEX Offices
Dec 6. Tomah, Three Bears Resort
Dec 7 Rice Lake, UW-Barron County
Dec 8 Shawano, Shawano Lake Park Pavilion
Dec 13 Fond du Lac, UW-Fond du Lac

Dec 8-9: "58th Wisconsin Land & Water Conservation Association Annual Conference" Chula Vista Resort, Wisconsin Dells,WI. Register by Nov 4th to avoid late fees. To register, volunteer, exhibit or donate a silent auction item, visit http://www.wlwca.org/conference.html

Dec 8: Hiking in Patagonia: Speaker Russ Helwig, 6:30 pm Rock Trail Coalition: JOBS Center, 1900 Center Ave., Janesville, WI.

Feb 7-10, 2012: The 2012 North American Environmental Field Conference & Exposition, San Diegeo, CA. Contact Info

Mar 13-16, 2012:The 2012 North American Environmental Field Conference & Exposition, Tampa, FL. Contact Info