Investigating Centre County, Black Moshannon Lake for Potential Methane Sources

Susan L. Brantley, Jennifer Z. Williams, Seth Pelepko, Stew Beattie, Kyle Homman, and Andrew Nyblade


Students will use HydroClient to discover, view, and download methane data collected by the Shale Network. To further investigate the area, Students will use PA DEP Oil and Gas Mapping tool to locate nearby wells. Lastly, students will use screenshots from the Exploration and Development Web Information Network (EDWIN), to uncover potential methane sources from nearby wells.

Conceptual Outcomes

Students will be able to identify one potential source of methane
Students will learn critical thinking and data analysis skills Students will synthesize research to draw conclusions

Practical Outcomes

Students will learn how to use HydroClient and PA DEP Oil and Gas Mapping tool

Time Required

45 minutes

Computing/Data Inputs

Methane Data from the Shale Network discovered using HydroClient

Computing/Data Outputs


Hardware/Software Required

Internet Browser


To discover data in the area we will use HydroClient[1], a free web application for discovering, viewing, and downloading environmental data from multiple sources. To access HydroClient go to by typing it exactly into the browser at the top of the screen. Before you get started working in HydroClient, please click on the Sign in with Google at the top right of the screen as circled below. YOU MUST BE SIGNED IN THROUGH GMAIL. Signing with Google unlocks additional features in HydroClient that you will need to complete the step. When you log in, HydroClient will ask you whether it is ok to get your information from Google: please click on "Allow".


  • Navigate back to HydroClient and refresh your browser to begin searching for data from Moshannon Creek. Type " Moshannon Creek, PA, United States" and use your cursor to click the option on the dropdown list as shown below.


The map will zoom to the location of interest as shown below:


  • Zoom into a specific area by double clicking once with your mouse on the area below "Moshannon" on the map that is circled in the screenshot below. Ensure your map area is approximately 800-950 square kilometers.


  • Your map should look similar to the screenshot below.


  • Now that your area is defined, define your search criteria again by selecting the Date Range: 6/01/2015 to 8/31/2015, Data Service: Shale Network. The search will automatically conduct once the search criteria are defined. The search results are shown below. Notice there are three blue data markers and two of them have numbers. The numbers signify the number of time series at or near that particular site. If you want, you can click Show Search Results in the Search Bar, if you want to do what we did last time and export it into one Excel file. Or...we describe below how to export data from each site separately.


  • First double click on the most northern blue data marker to view the search results as shown below.


  • Click on the row to highlight the data. Now click Select Action, Export selections in a combined file. When the export is complete remember to click open. Then save it to your local desktop by clicking on FILE in the toolbar of Excel, SAVE AS, then choose Desktop, and save it as "Black Moshannon Creek Downstream" on your local Desktop. If you are asked if you want to keep it as a .csv file, click Yes.
  • Navigate back to your search results and exit out of the table. The map of search results should still remain but to refresh the results click on Search Now (without manipulating any other part of the search criteria). Zoom into another specific area by double clicking once with your mouse on the area (next to the Black Moshannon State Park, do NOT click on the data marker yet) circled in the screenshot below.


  • Your map should look similar to the screenshot below. Notice the sites are actually in different locations.


  • Double Click on the data marker at the top of the lake, circled above. Highlight the row, click Select Action, Export selections in combined file.Remember to open the file first, then save the file to your local desktop as "Black Moshannon Creek upstream."
  • Lastly, double click on the data marker in the middle of Black Moshannon Lake, highlight the row, Select Action, Export selections in combined file.Remember to open the file first, then save the file to your local desktop as "Black Moshannon Lake." Be sure all files are saved on Desktop so you can return to them.


  1. Write down the latitude and longitude of the most northern site and each of the southern sites. Remember the stream runs from south to north and starts in Black Moshannon State Park.


We will now return to the PA Oil and Gas Mapping Tool to research nearby oil and gas well records.

  • Follow the steps outlined in the previous investigation to display all well locations in the map viewer and navigate to Sugar Run. create a buffer with a radius of 4500 feet. Start with the most northern (downstream) site and then work your way upstream to the Black Moshannon Lake sites.
  • Your map of the buffer at the most northern (downstream) site should look similar to the screenshot below.


  • Continue upstream (southern) to create buffers around the sites at Black Moshannon lake. Note: you may only have to make one buffer for the sites at Black Moshannon, as the sites are very close to each other.


  1. Consider active or abandoned or orphaned wells within the buffered areas you chose for your sites. What do you think causes the methane at the sample spots in Moshannon creek?
  2. Why does the methane concentration vary along the course of the stream? Besides this spatial variation, there is another type of variation shown in the Excel data spreadsheet. At which site is this type of variation greatest ... why? What would you describe as the best explanation for methane in the stream?
  3. Do you think there is any evidence that Moshannon creek is contaminated by methane from oil or gas wells?
  4. Why might it be hard to locate leaking methane in this stream if methane were to leak from a gas well near the Park?