The European Geosciences Union (EGU) has named journalists Mason Inman and Karl Urban as the winners of its 2015 Science Journalism Fellowship. Each of them will be awarded €2,500 for their journalism projects. The support will allow Inman to dig into how estimates of shale gas resources are made, while Urban will report on obtaining a new kind of geothermal energy.
Shale gas is a promising energy resource in Europe, especially in countries such as the UK and Poland. But how much of it is available for extraction is very much a matter of debate, as there are large uncertainties about the geological properties of the rock formations trapping the gas. Inman will travel to the UK and Poland to "delve into how estimates and forecasts for shale gas get made--and how the results get used," he writes in his winning proposal. The focus of his reporting will be on the geology behind assessing shale's potential.
Urban will report on efforts to access a different type of energy resource, obtained near active volcanoes. In 2008, when the Iceland Deep Drilling Project team drilled their first borehole to tap into geothermal energy at depths of more than 4,000 metres, they inadvertently drilled into a magma reservoir at 2,100 metres. Despite that, the project was considered a success as the scientists and engineers were able to supply heat directly from the molten magma for a few months. As they plan to drill another hole in south-western Iceland, Urban will follow them to report on the difficulties and consequences of tapping into magma energy.
Urban is a science journalist in Germany specialising in geoscience and space science reporting. He works for radio stations, online magazines and newspapers, including Deutschlandfunk, Spektrum.de and Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
Inman is a freelance journalist in the US who has written for a variety of outlets, including Nature, Science, Scientific American and New Scientist. He has focused on reporting on energy resources for the past three years.
The EGU Science Journalism Fellowship is an annual competition open to professional journalists wishing to report on ongoing research in the Earth, planetary and space sciences. The winning proposals receive up to €5K to cover expenses related to their projects. This support is intended to allow the fellows to follow geoscientists on location and to develop an in-depth understanding of their questions, approaches, findings and motivation.