Abstract Title:

Potential contaminant pathways from hydraulically fractured shale to aquifers.

Abstract Source:

Ground Water. 2012 Nov-Dec;50(6):872-82. Epub 2012 Apr 17. PMID: 22509908

Abstract Author(s):

Tom Myers

Article Affiliation:

Hydrologic Consultant, 6320 Walnut Creek Road, Reno, NV 89523, USA. tom_myers@charter.net

Abstract:

Hydraulic fracturing of deep shale beds to develop natural gas has caused concern regarding the potential for various forms of water pollution. Two potential pathways-advective transport through bulk media and preferential flow through fractures-could allow the transport of contaminants from the fractured shale to aquifers. There is substantial geologic evidence that natural vertical flow drives contaminants, mostly brine, to near the surface from deep evaporite sources. Interpretative modeling shows that advective transport could require up to tens of thousands of years to move contaminants to the surface, but also that fracking the shale could reduce that transport time to tens or hundreds of years. Conductive faults or fracture zones, as found throughout the Marcellus shale region, could reduce the travel time further. Injection of up to 15,000,000 L of fluid into the shale generates high pressure at the well, which decreases with distance from the well and with time after injection as the fluid advects through the shale. The advection displaces native fluids, mostly brine, and fractures the bulk media widening existing fractures. Simulated pressure returns to pre-injection levels in about 300 d. The overall system requires from 3 to 6 years to reach a new equilibrium reflecting the significant changes caused by fracking the shale, which could allow advective transport to aquifers in less than 10 years. The rapid expansion of hydraulic fracturing requires that monitoring systems be employed to track the movement of contaminants and that gas wells have a reasonable offset from faults.

Study Type : Review
Additional Links
Anti Therapeutic Actions : Fracking : CK(29) : AC(0)

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