August 6, 2013
Gradient scientists Samuel Flewelling, Ph.D., and Manu Sharma, M.S., P.E., have recently published a peer-reviewed journal article that establishes constraints on potential upward migration of hydraulic fracturing fluid and brine from oil & gas shales (and other similar formations) to shallow potable groundwater. The article, “Constraints on Upward Migration of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid and Brine,” will be featured in an upcoming issue of Groundwater and is currently available online. The paper establishes limits on how much fluid could potentially migrate upward and how long it would take for such migration to occur. Results indicate that there are multiple natural constraints that limit upward fluid fluxes to low values and that it would take considerable time (typically more than one million years) for hydraulic fracturing fluid or brine to reach a shallow aquifer, if upward flow is possible at all. Hence, the research demonstrates that contamination of potable groundwater resources by hydraulic fracturing fluid or brine via upward migration through rocks that overlay oil & gas shales and other similar formations is not physically plausible.
A reprint of the article can be obtained by contacting the authors or downloading a freely available copy from the Groundwater journal website.