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Current Research: Our interdisciplinary team works collaboratively at the Susquehanna-Shale Hills CZO to advance methods for characterizing regolith, to provide a theoretical basis for predicting the distribution, properties and evolution of regolith, and to theoretically and experimentally study the impacts of regolith on fluid pathways, flow rates, solute residence times, and response to climate change.

Climate and Hydrometeorology: This research focuses on investigation of explicit coupling and feedback for subsurface-landsurface-atmosphere interaction using fully coupled models over meteorologic and climatic time scales. A long history of hydrologic research at the site has stimulated reanalysis research to reprocess and assimilate observational data collected during experimental campaigns conducted over a 40+ year span, into an integrated watershed reanalysis product.

Weathering: Weathering fronts, mineral transformation reactions, and long-term physical-chemical weathering fluxes are elucidating the important physical, biological and hydrogeochemical processes that operate within this shale dominated catchment. 

Shale Hills CZO sampling locations

Hydropedology: Using a suite of non-invasive imaging techniques (X-ray tomography, ground penetrating radar, and electromagnetic induction) in combination with real-time soil monitoring we are able to detect and model subsurface flow networks and their dynamics.

Ecological Research: In this study patterns of tree water use and water availability across the watershed influence trees at the physiological, community and evolutionary time scales; and how a temperate forest affects water, energy and weathering rates.

Stable Isotope Hydrology: The stable isotope network takes a comprehensive approach to determine space-time signatures in all stores of the watershed and to elucidate fluid pathways and time scales from source to sink.

Watershed Modeling: The stable isotope network is also being used to evaluate the “age” and residence times of stable isotopes at Shale Hills as part of an integrated hydrodynamic model for water, solutes and sediments. The Penn State Integrated Hydrologic Model for water and energy budgets has been implemented at Shale Hills and the sediment transport and solute transport are in final stages of completion. A landscape evolution model is planned for implementation in year 5.

Soil Biogeochemistry: This research focuses on quantification of soil respiration rates and investigation of how water movement/storage and soil texture lead to variability in soil-atmosphere CO2 exchange.

Geomorphology: Sediment erosion, transport, and deposition are being incorporated into the Penn State Integrated Hydrologic Model. Efforts include development of a hillslope sediment flux model that incorporates tree-throw and freeze-thaw creep.

Hydrogeophysics: In field-scale and lab-scale tracer tests both soils and shale material show preferential pathways that may be indicative of dual-domain solute transport behavior.

Shale Hills CZO sampling locations


Research News

FEATURED NATIONALLY

CZOs at AGU 2018

19 Nov 2018 - The 2018 AGU Fall Meeting will be held December 10-14 in Washington, D.C.

FEATURED NATIONALLY

NSF Discovery articles focus on the CZOs.

10 May 2018 - The Discoveries section of the National Science Foundation's website on Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs).


GEOPATHS:  A Near Surface Geophysics Field Experience

29 Jan 2019 - Are you interested in a career with a social impact?  Do you have an interest in Earth & Environmental Sciences?  Apply for...

TeenShale dives into stream test kits by HACH for water quality analyses

24 Jan 2019 - Without a winter warmup, students forgo the field for the classroom to discover what is in the HACH box.  The 2018-2019 TeenShale cohort...

Researchers perform geophysical logging at Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory

14 Jan 2019 - Penn State researchers in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI) spent the weekend of Jan. 12-13 performing geophysical logging at the...

2018 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting - What Science Stands For

14 Nov 2018 - The Annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union is a worldwide conference for geophysical sciences, which brings together space scietists,...

Eissenstat laboratory group shares ecology research with Franklin & Marshall College class

20 Oct 2018 - Visiting Professor of Biology, Dr. J.B. Moon (Penn State Alumna, Ecology - 2012), toured the Shale Hills catchment with BIO 323 – Ecological...

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Example Publications

FEATURED

Mercury sourcing and sequestration in weathering profiles at six Critical Zone Observatories. Richardson, Justin B., Arnulfo A. Aguirre, Heather L. Buss, A. Toby O'Geen, Xin Gu, Daniella M. Rempe, and Daniel deB. Richter (2018): Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 32(10):1542-1555 Cross-CZO National

FEATURED NATIONALLY

Ideas and perspectives: Strengthening the biogeosciences in environmental research networks. Richter, D.D., S.A. Billings, P.M. Groffman, E.F. Kelly, K.A. Lohse, W.H. McDowell, T.S. White, S. Anderson, D.D. Baldocchi, S. Banwart, S. Brantley, J.J. Braun, Z.S. Brecheisen, C.W. Cook, H.E. Hartnett, S.E. Hobbie, J. Gaillardet, E. Jobbagy, H.F. Jungkunst, C.E. Kazanski, J. Krishnaswamy, D. Markewitz, K. O’Neill, C.S. Riebe, P. Schroeder, C. Siebe, W.L. Silver, A. Thompson, A. Verhoef, G. Zhang (2018): Biogeosciences 15: 4815-4832 Cross-CZO National

FEATURED

Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory: Shale Hills in the Context of Shaver's Creek Watershed. Brantley Susan, White Timothy, West Nicole, Williams Jennifer, Forsythe Brandon, Shapich Dan, Kaye Jason, Lin Hangsheng (Henry), Shi Yuning, Kaye Margot, Herndon Elizabeth, Davis Kenneth, He Yuting, Eissenstat David, Weitzman Julie, DiBiase Roman, Li Li, Reed Warren, Brubaker Kristen, Gu Xin (2018): Vadose Zone Journal, 17:180092

FEATURED

The Effect of Lithology and Agriculture at the Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory. Li Li, DiBiase Roman A., Del Vecchio Joanmarie, Marcon Virginia, Hoagland Beth, Xiao Dacheng, Wayman Callum, Tang Qicheng, He Yuting, Silverhart Perri, Szink Ismaiel, Forsythe Brandon, Williams Jennifer Z., Shapich Dan, Mount Gregory J., Kaye Jason, Guo Li, Lin Henry, Eissenstat David, Dere Ashlee, Brubaker Kristen, Kaye Margot, Davis Kenneth J., Russo Tess A., Brantley Susan L. (2018): Vadose Zone Journal, 17:180063

FEATURED NATIONALLY

A net ecosystem carbon budget for snow dominated forested headwater catchments: linking water and carbon fluxes to critical zone carbon storage. Perdrial J., Brooks P.D., Swetnam T., Lohse K.A., Rasmussen C., Litvak M., Harpold A.A., Zapata-Rios X., Broxton P., Mitra B., Meixner M., Condon K., Huckle D., Stielstra C., Vázquez-Ortega A., Lybrand R., Holleran M., Orem C., Pelletier J., Chorover J. (2018): Biogeochemistry 138{3): 225–243 Cross-CZO


Lithology differentially shifts root distribution of co-occurring tree species. Szink, Ismaiel, Hasenmueller, Elizabeth A., Orr, Alexandra S., Adams, Thomas S., Long, Robert S., Eissenstat, David M. (2019): Ecology (submitted)

Hillslope hydrology in global change research and Earth system modeling. Fan, Y., Clark, M., Lawrence, D. M., Swenson, S., Band, L. E., Brantley, S. L., P. D. Brooks, W. E. Dietrich, A. Flores, G. Grant, J. W. Kirchner, D. S. Mackay, J. J. McDonnell, P. C. D. Milly, P. L. Sullivan, C. Tague, H. Ajami, N. Chaney, A. Hartmann, P. Hazenberg, J. McNamara, J. Pelletier, J. Perket, E. Rouholahnejad‐Freund, T. Wagener, X. Zeng, E. Beighley, J. Buzan, M. Huang, B. Livneh, B. P. Mohanty, B. Nijssen, M. Safeeq, C. Shen, W. van Verseveld, J. Volk, D. Yamazaki (2019): Water Resources Research, vol 55 Cross-CZO

No “Gadgil effect”: Temperate tree roots and soil lithology are effective predictors of wood decomposition. Malik, Rondy J. (2019): Forest Pathology

Chemical reactions, porosity, and microfracturing in shale during weathering: the effect of erosion rate . Gu, X., D.M. Rempe, W.E. Dietrich, A.J. West, T.-C. Lin, L. Jin, S.L. Brantley (2019): Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta (submitted) Cross-CZO

Poised to Hindcast and Earthcast the Effect of Climate on the Critical Zone: Shale Hills as a Model . Sullivan, Pamela, Li, Li, Godderis, Yves, Brantley, Susan L. (2019): In Biogeochemical Cycles: Ecological Drivers and Environmental Impact

Predominant control of soil properties in storage-discharge relationship and threshold behavior in catchments derived from contrasting lithologies. Xiao, D., Shi, Y., Brantley, S. L., Forsythe, B., DiBiase, R. A., Davis, K. J., Li, L. (2019): Water Resources Research (in review)

Soil CO2 and O2 concentrations illuminate the relative importance of weathering and respiration to seasonal soil gas fluctuations. Hodges, Caitlin, Hyojin Kim, Susan L. Brantley, Jason Kaye (2019): Soil Science Society of America Journal (submitted)

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