Hydraulic Fracturing Induced Contaminant Pathways in Groundwater

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Hydraulic fracturing in areas of natural gas production has been the cause of several environmental issues, notably among them is groundwater contamination. Proponents of hydraulic fracturing argue the improbability of induced contaminant pathways in groundwater since the annuli are sealed and the reservoirs lay thousands of feet below the water table, but opponents have cited a change in ground water quality over time. An ArcGIS model is created in this thesis to analyze groundwater quality data with respect to the relative proximity of gas wells, knowledge of the reservoir pressure gradient, gas well characteristics, and fracture treatment data in order to explore the relationship, if any, between groundwater quality changes and hydraulic fracturing operations. Results indicate that elevated concentrations of certain groundwater constituents are related to natural gas production in the study area.

Hydraulic fractures, Groundwater contamination, ArcGIS, Barnett Shale