Frac Sand in NE Iowa

Mining companies have expressed interest in exploiting the easily accessible high quality quartz silica sand (used in hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”) in Winneshiek County in northeast Iowa. The county board of supervisors voted to place a moratorium on such mining activity to allow for adequate investigation and modeling of the impacts such activity would have. Due to significant industrial secrecy, the county did not have a complete understanding of where silica sand mining operations are likely to be located. Since location of likely mines is a critical component to conduct appropriate impact analysis, the goal of the project was to determine where in the county such sand mining operations were likely to be located. As a member of the Geoinformatics for Environmental and Energy Modeling and Prediction (GEEMaP) IGERT at the University of Iowa, and in collaboration with Winneshiek County and the Iowa Institute for Sustainable Communities (IISC), I participated in this project to predict frac sand mining locations. We developed a spatially sensitive statistical model and derived beta weights from a corresponding model for the state of Wisconsin wherein actual mine sites were known.WinnMineLocationPrediction

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