Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Dr. William Travis, Geography, Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Patricia Limerick, Center of the American West

Third Advisor

Dr. Holly Barnard, Geography


In Colorado, a majority of existing and planned oil and natural gas operations occur along the populous Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, with a particular focus in Weld County. In recent years, unconventional oil and gas operations have lead to a surge of new activity in the region that has affected both rural and suburban areas, bringing environmental impact and social pros and cons. This has been a source of contention for numerous communities, and has brought legal disputes between local and state officials concerning drilling permission jurisdiction. Simultaneously, the region’s historic link to oil and gas wells has also resulted in decommissioned and abandoned wells that must be documented and monitored after they cease production. Due to intermittent issues in decommissioning (plugging) and documentation, abandoned wells can have problems involving well integrity and site location. In order to properly understand these issues, I look at how historical geographic information systems can be used to identify patterns of well drilling over several decades, with a focus on Greeley, Colorado, in hopes that this information can be used in future planning scenarios.