We are a nationally funded Critical Zone Observatory established in 2007. Our research promotes the understanding of how a forested, first-order catchment of shale bedrock evolves over multiple time scales in a temperate climate.
Nick Kaiser, summer REU student, collecting soil respiration data from the south swale transect within Shale Hills, PA.
With processes occurring on the order of minutes (meteorological) to millennia (geological), we investigate how water sculpts a shale bedrock landscape and what controls the hydrologic and elemental budgets of the catchment. We seek to quantify the rates and mechanisms of important hydrological, ecological and geochemical processes. Our research team spans three colleges within PSU: Engineering, Earth and Mineral Sciences, and Agricultural Sciences.
Building upon the Past
George Holmes, MS alum from Civil and Environmental Engineering, collects precipitation samples from the Eigenbrodt NSA-181S for isotope analysis.
The Shale Hills watershed along with a sister catchment, Leading Ridge watershed, have been the focus of long-term studies since 1958. Originally established to evaluate “best management practices” in forested and managed watersheds, today’s Susquehanna Shale Hills CZO is building upon legacy data such as streamflow, precipitation, climate and water quality.
Education and Outreach
Postdoctoral Scholar Chris Graham works with the local high school "pre-term freshman" in the first STEM academy offered at the CZO in August of 2010.
From summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU’s) and a STEM academy with local high school “pre-term freshmen” to International Collaboration Experiences and beyond, we offer ongoing mentoring activities on catchment projects to develop and enrich your path to a science and engineering career. Our research team is dedicated to training the next generation of scientists by providing workshops and regular “camp” and “field school” experiences.
Jane Wubbles, MS alum from Ecology, demonstrates the art of "Tree Climbing," a skill necessary for leaf and small branch collection in the upper-most canopy.
The Susquehanna Shale Hills CZO offers outstanding multidisciplinary opportunities for research collaborators and especially for graduate-student research. To schedule a field visit or take advantage of our data and infrastructure, please contact the CZO PI, Sue Brantley; the CZO National Coordinator, Tim White; or the CZO Program and Data Coordinator, Brandon Forsythe.