Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Forest Resource Management

Committee Chair

Shawn Grushecky

Committee Member

Jingxin Wang

Committee Member

Michael Strager


Little research has been done on the land cover change of unconventional oil and gas (UOG) wells across the Appalachian basin. In the last decade, UOG development has increased drastically across the region. Permitted well data from 2007 to 2017 were assembled into a geospatial database and analyzed with current aerial imagery to determine the activity of permitted wells in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. To capture all disturbance related to UOG development, a 25-hectare buffer was placed around each active well as the study extent. A supervised classification approach was used to determine the pre-development and post-development landcover across all 4,212 well pad buffers in the region. Overall, the average forested and grass land cover percentage decreased by 4.3 and 0.8 percent across the Appalachian basin, while the impervious surface percentage gained an average of 5.2 percent respectively. The largest land cover change category was forest to grass, with an average of 3.8 hectares per well pad buffer across the region. Forest and grass land cover changed to impervious land cover by an average of 0.8 and 0.9 hectares per well buffer. The trend suggests that well pads are currently being placed in areas with higher grass landcover. Thus as development continues in the region, results indicate that impacts could increase in more forested cover types.