CMU Research Guide to the Marcellus and Utica Shales

by Duane Nichols on November 8, 2012

Shale Project on PA Route 87

A project of Carnegie Mellon University and the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs

About the Project:

Debate on natural gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of shale rock formations center on arguments about energy, the economy, and the environment. There has been considerably less attention paid to the societal and social impacts of hydraulic fracturing, including impacts on tourism, patterns of housing development, crime, social services usage, road quality, and urban planning and population issues.

The urgency to understand these concerns brought together researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and officials from the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs and the Chrostwaite Institute to create the Research Guide to the Marcellus and Utica Shales. The purpose of this project is to catalogue the literature on natural gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing in order to help policymakers and researchers comprehend the existing research on this topic and identify issues for further study.


This catalogue contains over 1,200 sources, making it the most comprehensive bibliography on natural gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing. Although the focus of this project is on the Marcellus and Utica shales, we included sources about hydraulic fracturing and other natural gas shale plays more generally..

The catalogue contains research and documents from: peer-reviewed journals, academic papers;other articles and documents, including those from industry-sponsored and anti-fracking sources; maps and data files;government reports, regulatory documents, hearing testimonies, court cases;books and videos.

Newspaper sources were excluded from our review of the literature, however, we have compiled a list of newspaper series on the topic.

We found that the bulk of the literature on the impacts of Marcellus and Utica shale gas drilling discuss public health, environmental concerns, economic impacts, and politics and regulation. We found relatively few sources examining particular social impacts, such as housing or roads. By revealing what sources are available, this bibliography identifies gaps in the literature and issues for future study.

Search Methods:

We conducted a systematic search for literature on hydraulic fracturing and the Marcellus and Utica shales using 9 search engines and databases:

  • Google Scholar, WorldCat, Government sites in Google (search by domain: .gov), Web of Knowledge, ProQuest and ProQuest Congressional, SCOPUS, LexisNexis, Thomas (Library of Congress).

Variations of the following keywords in our searches produced the references catalogued in this project: Utica shale: Marcellus shale, hydraulic fracturing (and also the alternate terms: fracking, fracing, and hydrofracturing), social and economic impacts, crime, drugs, housing, labor, road/rail/transportation, tourism, taxes, property, welfare, health (and alternately, public health/healthcare), environment.

Contributors: Anna Kasunic and Collin Siu developed this project under the direction of Robert P. Strauss, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the H. John Heinz III College, and Dr. Afeworki Paulos, Social Sciences Librarian and adjunct faculty member at the School of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. Edward J. Knittel and Jeffrey Heishman of the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs provided valuable feedback throughout its development.

Correspondence about this project is welcomed, including comments about broken links and suggestions for resources to be added, through their contact form or email at

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: