Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Methane monitoring method reveals high levels in Pennsylvania stream

01.04.2015

A new stream-based monitoring system recently discovered high levels of methane in a Pennsylvania stream near the site of a reported Marcellus shale gas well leak, according to researchers at Penn State and the U.S. Geological Survey. The system could be a valuable screening tool to assess the environmental impact of extracting natural gas using fracking.

Multiple samples from the stream, Sugar Run in Lycoming County, showed a groundwater inflow of thermogenic methane, consistent with what would be found in shale gas, the researchers report in a recent issue of Environmental Science and Technology. Victor Heilweil, research hydrologist, Utah Water Science Center, USGS, was lead author on the paper.

"I found it startling that our USGS and Penn State team of four people did a reconnaissance of 15 streams and discovered one instance of natural gas degassing into a stream that may very well be explained by a nearby leaking shale gas well," said Susan Brantley, distinguished professor of geosciences and director of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Penn State.

After testing Sugar Run and finding high methane levels, researchers learned that several nearby domestic water supplies were reportedly contaminated by a Marcellus gas well that had a defective casing or cement, according to the researchers.

Additional analyses of the degassing methane revealed characteristics also observed at the leaking gas well, but scientists were not able to prove the methane in Sugar Run is caused by the leak because they do not have baseline samples of the stream. Still, the researchers pointed to the findings to show stream monitoring is an effective, efficient method for monitoring shale-gas impacts.

"We hope this new technique developed by the USGS can now be used as a way of monitoring stray gas not only when it gets into drinking water, but when it gets into streams, which are much easier to access than homeowner wells," said Brantley, a co-author of the study. "In addition, streams collect water from nearby areas and may be very cost effective waters to target for monitoring because they integrate over larger land areas."

Most monitoring around gas wells has traditionally been limited to domestic water wells. Testing that way alone, especially in rural areas where the wells are spread out, has made assessing the true impact of wells difficult, researchers said in the report.

"Watersheds funnel water and chemicals to streams and by sampling at the end of the funnel we are able to find leaks that would otherwise be like looking for a needle in a haystack," said Kip Solomon, professor of geology and director of the Noble Gas Laboratory at the University of Utah, another co-author of the report.

###

Also working on this project were Paul L. Grieve, former graduate student, Penn State, now a geologist at AECOM ; Scott A. Hynek, postdoctoral fellow, Earth and Environmental Systems Institute and Department of Geosciences, Penn State; and Dennis W. Risser , hydrologist, Pennsylvania Water Science Center, U.S.G.S.

The U.S.G.S and the National Science Foundation supported this work.

Media Contact

A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481

 @penn_state

http://live.psu.edu 

A'ndrea Elyse Messer | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Environmental Methane USGS domestic drinking water levels natural gas rural areas water supplies

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Supercomputing helps researchers understand Earth's interior
23.05.2017 | University of Illinois College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

nachricht How is climate change affecting fauna in the Arctic?
22.05.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>