Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New technique shows shale-drilling additives in drinking-water taps near leak

05.05.2015

Substances commonly used for drilling or extracting Marcellus shale gas foamed from the drinking water taps of three Pennsylvania homes near a reported well-pad leak, according to new analysis from a team of scientists.

The researchers used a new analytical technique on samples from the homes and found a chemical compound, 2-BE, and an unidentified complex mixture of organic contaminants, both commonly seen in flowback water from Marcellus shale activity. The scientists published their findings this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


This is a bottle containing foam from a water source.

Credit: Susan Brantley, Penn State

"These findings are important because we show that chemicals traveled from shale gas wells more than two kilometers in the subsurface to drinking water wells," said co-author Susan Brantley, distinguished professor of geosciences and director of the Earth and Environmental Institute at Penn State. "The chemical that we identified either came from fracking fluids or from drilling additives and it moved with natural gas through natural fractures in the rock. In addition, for the first time, all of the data are released so that anyone can study the problem."

Such contamination from shale gas wells in shallow potable water sources has never been fully documented before, Brantley said. The new technique could be a valuable tool in evaluating alleged causes of unconventional gas drilling impacts to groundwater.

"More studies such as ours need to be disseminated to the general public to promote transparency and to help guide environmental policies for improving unconventional gas development," said Garth Llewellyn, principal hydrogeologist at Appalachia Hydrogeologic and Environmental Consulting and the paper's lead author.

The affected homes are located near a reported pit leak at a Marcellus shale gas well pad. Scientists believe stray natural gas and wastewater were driven one to three kilometers (0.6 to 1.8 miles) laterally along shallow to intermediate depth fractures to the source of the homes' well water.

State environmental regulators previously found high levels of natural gas in the water, but did not discover flowback water contamination above regulatory limits and could not determine what was making the water foam, according to the researchers.

The team used highly sophisticated equipment and tested for a range of possible contaminants at low concentration levels, rather than testing for specific substances.

"This work demonstrates that these events are possible, but that more sophisticated analytical work may be necessary to uncover the details of the impact," said co-author Frank Dorman, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, Penn State. "In short, we were able to confirm water contamination because we are using non-conventional techniques. Specifically, GCxGC-TOFMS allowed for the characterization of this drinking water where routine testing was not able to determine what was causing the foaming." GC-GC-TOFMS is a form of gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry.

The homes were sold to the gas company as part of a legal settlement in 2012, but scientists received samples before the transfer.

Also working on this project were Jennifer Westland, former researcher assistant; David Yoxtheimer, research assistant, Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, Penn State; Paul Grieve, former graduate student; Todd Sowers, senior scientist in geosciences, Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Penn State; Elizabeth Humston-Fulmer, applications chemist, Leco Coperation.

The National Science Foundation, Penn State Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Restek Corp., and Leco Corp. 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!

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>