Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: An Assessment of the Potential Effects of Shale Gas Development on Water Resources in the United States

Science Center Objects

Shale gas is a key source of onshore domestic energy for the United States and production of this resource is increasing rapidly. Development and extraction of shale gas requires hydraulic fracturing, which entails horizontal drilling, perforation of steel casing and cement grout using explosive charges, and expansion of fractures using fluids under high pressure. Concern over potential environ...

Shale gas is a key source of onshore domestic energy for the United States and production of this resource is increasing rapidly. Development and extraction of shale gas requires hydraulic fracturing, which entails horizontal drilling, perforation of steel casing and cement grout using explosive charges, and expansion of fractures using fluids under high pressure. Concern over potential environmental effects of shale gas development is growing and based on a recent review there is very little information in the scientific literature on potential environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing.

We propose to conduct the first broad scale, data-based assessment of the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing on water resources in the United States. We will use existing databases and analyze water quality and quantity data in shale gas play areas to assess potential effects of hydraulic fracturing.



Principal Investigator(s):

Zachary H Bowen (Fort Collins Science Center)

David N Mott (Wyoming Water Science Center)

Christopher J Potter (Central Energy Resources Team)

Participant(s):

Aida M Farag (Jackson Field Research Station, CERC)

William M Kappel (Ithaca Office, NY Water Science Center)

Brian S Cade (Fort Collins Science Center)

David D Susong (Utah Water Science Center)

Gretchen P Oelsner (New Mexico Water Science Center)

Melanie L Clark (Wyoming Water Science Center)

Peter J Cinotto (Kentucky Water Science Center)

Stanley T Paxton (Oklahoma Water Science Center)

Suzanne Paschke (Colorado Water Science Center)

Tanya J Gallegos (Energy Resources Science Center)

Timothy M Kresse (Arkansas Water Science Center)

Timothy D Oden (Eastern Water Science Field Team)

Robert B Jackson (Duke University)



Publications:

Bowen Z.H., Oelsner, G.P., Cade, B.S., Gallegos, T.J., Farag, A.M., Mott, D.M., Potter, C.J., Cinotto, P.J., Clark, M.L., Kappel, W.M., Kresse, T.M., Melcher, C.P., Paschke, S.S., Susong, D.D., and Varela, B.A., (2015). Assessment of surface water chloride and conductivity trends in areas of unconventional oil and gas development--Why existing national data sets cannot tell us what we would like to know. Water Resources Research. AGU. doi: 10.1002/2014WR016382



Cade, B. S. 2017. Quantile regression applications in ecology and the environmental sciences. Pages 429-454 in R. Koenker et al. eds. Handbooks of Modern Statistical Methods: Handbook of Quantile Regression. Chapman & Hall/CRC



Gallegos, T.J., and Varela, B.A., (2015). Trends in hydraulic fracturing distributions and treatment fluids, additives, proppants, and water volumes applied to wells drilled in the United States from 1947 through 2010--Data analysis and comparison to the literature. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014--5131, 15 p., doi:10.3133/sir20145131.



Gallegos, T.J., and Varela, B.A., (2015). Data regarding hydraulic fracturing distributions and treatment fluids, additives, proppants, and water volumes applied to wells drilled in the United States from 1947 through 2010. U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 868, 11 p., doi:10.3133/ds868.



Susong, D.D., Gallegos, T.J., and Oelsner, G.P. (2012). Water quality studied in areas of unconventional oil and gas development, including areas where hydraulic fracturing techniques are used, in the United States. U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet, 2012--3049.