The Chemistry of Waters that Follow from Fracking: A Case Study

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In a investigate of 13 hydraulically fractured shale gas wells in north-central Pennsylvania, USGS researchers found that a microbiology and organic chemistry of a constructed waters sundry widely from good to well.

Storage tanks for constructed H2O from healthy gas drilling in a Marcellus Shale gas play of western Pennsylvania. USGS photo, Doug Duncan.

Storage tanks for constructed H2O from healthy gas drilling in a Marcellus Shale gas play of western Pennsylvania. USGS photo, Doug Duncan.

The variations in these aspects of a wells followed no distinct spatial or geological settlement though might be associated to a time a good was in production. Further, a investigate highlighted a participation of some organic compounds (e.g. benzene) in constructed waters that could benefaction intensity risks to tellurian health, if a waters are not scrupulously managed.

Produced H2O is a tenure specialists use to report a H2O brought to a land aspect during oil, gas, and coalbed methane production. This H2O is a reduction of naturally occurring H2O and liquid injected into a arrangement low subterraneous to raise production. A USGS Fact Sheet on constructed H2O provides some-more credentials information and vernacular definitions.

Although a USGS investigators found that a fake (noncarbon-based) chemistry of constructed waters from a shale gas wells tested in a Marcellus segment was sincerely unchanging from good to good and meshed with allied formula of prior studies (see USGS Energy Produced Waters Project), a vast differences in a organic geochemistry (carbon-based, including petroleum products) and microbiology (e.g. bacteria) of a constructed waters were distinguished commentary of a study.

“Some wells seemed to be hotspots for microbial activity,” celebrated Denise Akob, a USGS microbiologist and lead author of a study, “but this was not likely by good location, depth, or salinity. The participation of microbes seemed to be compared with concentrations of specific organic compounds — for example, benzene or acetate — and a length of time that a good was in production.”

The tie between a participation of organic compounds and a showing of microbes was not, in itself, surprising. Many organic compounds used as hydraulic fracturing liquid additives are biodegradable and so could have upheld microbial activity during abyss during shale gas production.

The important differences in flighty organic compounds (VOCs) from a constructed waters of a tested wells could play a purpose in a government of constructed waters, quite given VOCs, such as benzene, might be a health regard around a good or holding pond. In wells but VOCs, on a other hand, ordering strategies could combine on issues associated to a doing of other dangerous compounds.

Microbial activity rescued in these samples could spin out to be an advantage by contributing to a plunge of organic compounds benefaction in a constructed waters. Potentially, microbes could also offer to assistance lessen a effects of organic contaminants during a ordering or random recover of constructed waters. Additional investigate is indispensable to entirely consider how microbial activity can best be employed to biodegrade organic compounds found in constructed waters.

The investigate essay can be found in a many new book of Applied Geochemistry, Special Issue on Shale Gas Geochemistry.

Source: USGS