Unconventional drilling techniques such as hydraulic fracturing are being used to extract trapped shale gas. Specifically in Pennsylvania, the Marcellus Shale formation has been estimated to contain 13.8 trillion m3 of extractable natural gas using hydraulic fracturing. The hydraulic fracturing process can release harmful analytes into pre-existing water supplies ruining the quality of the water. The primary fingerprint analytes associated with unconventional drilling are barium, strontium, and bromide. The Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for investigating any claims of water diminution related to drilling and issues
determination letters which use certified laboratories to analyze collected water samples. This study used the determination letters acquired through open records requests to extract water chemistry values and upload them to CUAHSI HIS. Similarly, industry collected pre-drill data was also uploaded to CUAHSI HIS. Pre-drill data and negative determination letter data were expected to have similar water chemistry concentrations while positive determination letter data was expected to have higher concentrations for the fingerprint analytes. Also, methane was expected to be highest for positive determination letter data. The study showed that positive
determination letter data did have the highest average concentrations of barium (2.073 mg/L) and strontium (1.606 mg/L) and negative determination letter data was more similar to pre-drill data. However, average methane concentrations for negative determination letter data (25.720 mg/L) were more similar to positive determination letter data (25.985 mg/L).
Shaub, Alexander (2014): Investigating Pennsylvania Water Quality Impacts Due to Shale Gas Development. Bachelor of Science, The Pennsylvania State University.
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