As of October 1, 2016, the SWUTC concluded its 28 years of operation and is no longer an active center of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The archived SWUTC website remains available here.


SWUTC Research Project Description

Forecasting the Impacts of Shale Gas Developments on Public Health and Transportation Systems on Both Sides of the Mexico-USA Border

University: Texas A&M University

Principal Investigator:
Zenon Medina-Cetina
Texas Transportation Institute
(979) 845-6567

Project Monitor:
Jerry A. Dimaggio
Implementation Coordinator of the Strategic Highway Research Program 2
Transportation Research Bord of the National Academies

Funding Source: USDOT

Total Project Cost: $65,925

Project Number: 600451-00027

Date Started: 1/7/13

Estimated Completion Date: 12/31/14

Project Summary

Project Abstract:
This project will build theoretical and computational tools to perform Bayesian Forecasting of Transportation and Public Health indicators.  For this purpose, a data collection will be conducted to capture indicators that can be traced with respect to space and time (e.g. population growth, infrastructure development, well location/production, water quality, epidemiologic deceases, traffic, etc.). These sources of evidence will be processed via a Risk decision-making model based on Bayesian Networks (developed already by the PI), to relate via uncertainty quantification and causality, key transportation and public health variables inherent to shale gas developments. Results will show Risk maps integrating indicators of community safety, economical, and environmental sustainability, on both sides of the Mexico-USA border.

Project Objectives:

  • To forecast the impacts of shale gas developments in the form of community-based scenarios given in the form public health and transportation indexes, by the use of the BN+GIS methodology, as applied to spatial and temporal sensitive data collected on both sides of the Mexico-USA border (Eagle Ford Shale).
  • To establish a bi-national network of collaboration that can generate preliminary research findings, which can be utilized to seek further funding. The aim will be to extend the proposed forecasting approach into other imminent areas of influence related to Economic Growth and Trade, Mobility, Infrastructure Efficiency, Safety, Environmental Stewardship and a Secure Environment.
  • To disseminate the research results online, including the BN+GIS scheme, so that any stakeholder can ‘play’ with different decision-making scenarios regarding transportation public health systems.

Task Descriptions:
Task 1. Data Collection

Data collection, preprocessing and coding of the Bayesian Forecasting Module

Task 2: BN+GIS Model Validation
BN+GIS Model validation, and risk forecasting of public health and transportation systems.

Task 3. Analysis
Analysis of results.

Task4. Production of Deliverables
Coding of the online module for the dissemination of results and production of the final technical report.

Implementation of Research Outcomes:
For this project, researchers gathered a collection of spatial data from the Eagle Ford Shale, including transportation infrastructure, geology, hydrology, demography, and well production. And developed an improvement of the proposed Bayesian Network for the regional assessment of environmental and social risk (i.e., transportation infrastructure and public health) by enhancing the BN+GIS Model for Environmental Sensibility assessment including a Surface Water variable. This required the improvement and optimization of the code producing BN+GIS results to reduce computational time. Afterward, researchers attained results on the implementation of enhanced BN+GIS model in the Barnett Shale Play.

Products developed by this research include:

New Technology:  This research acquired spatial data in the Eagle Ford to test an implementation of the BN+GIS technology (Integration of Bayesian Networks with Geographical Information Systems) developed by the PI’s research group. This allowed  validation of a risk model on environmental impacts of shale gas developments at the Barnett Shale and Eagle Ford plays.

Presentation: Dynamic Mapping of Climate Change Impacts on Transmission and Distribution Grids, Zenon Medina-Cetina, Texas A&M University, presented to the Center Point Energy Strategic R&D Meeting, Center Point Houston, TX, June 23, 2015.

Presentation: Risk-based Weather Impacts on the Grid, Zenon Medina-Cetina, Texas A&M University, presented to the Smart Grid Workshop, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, April 21, 2015.

Presentation: Stochastic Geomechanics for Optimal Risk-Based Decision-Making, Zenon Medina-Cetina, Texas A&M University, invited lecture to the technical session – Working with Uncertainty and Complexity in Modern Engineering Geology at the 56th annual meeting of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists AEG, Seattle, WA, September 8-15, 2013.

Presentation: Bayesian Forecasting of Energy Developments, Zenon Medina-Cetina, Texas A&M University, presented to the Texas Census Research Data Center, College Station, TX, July 2013.

Presentation: Diagnosis and Prognosis Analysis of Ecological Management under Varying Climate Change Scenarios, Zenon Medina-Cetina, presented to the SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering, Boston, MA, February 25 – March 1, 2013.

Journal Article Under Review:  Causal Probabilistic Mapping of States of Risk: Integrating Bayesian Networks and GIS (BN+GIS) for the Environmental Risk Assessment of the Barnett Shale, Zenon Medina-Cetina, Texas A&M University, submitted to the ASCE-ASME Journal of Risk and Uncertainty in Engineering Systems.

Journal Article in Final Preparation for Submission:  Parametric Sensitivity Analysis for Risk Assessment using Bayesian Networks and GIS, Zenon Medina-Cetina, Texas A&M University, to be submitted to the International Journal of Geographical Information Science.

Impacts/Benefits of Implementation:
This project improves public knowledge by integrating complex information in a single mapping platform which can provide local communities, land owners and policy makers a better understanding of the risk of installing new energy infrastructure, and to assess the current state of those which already exist.

It is anticipated that decision makers and policy makers would adopt the tool developed by this research to quantify the hazard, vulnerability and consequences on any energy development. Once this analysis is performed, they can make more informed decisions regarding the design of the operation sites, including any measure that needs to be taken in order to reduce the vulnerability through the existent and most effective engineering solutions. Decisions and new policies can also be applied for example, to the existent wells in shale gas developments, in order to improve or update the design of the sites due to the presence of any hazardous conditions.  Under the assumption that a better informed community is capable to make better decisions, the local leaders and organizations can make better agreements with the industry, and move towards a more sustainable development that benefits the locality’s life quality. For instance, in better defining the location of wells to minimize the potential impact of aquifer contamination, or air pollution, or deterioration of transportation infrastructure.

Web Links:
Final Report