Sep 26, 2018

University of Texas Study Explores Relationship Between Fracking, Groundwater

The new study finds no connection between fracking and elevated levels of methane in groundwater near the Barnett Shale gas field

Study finds no link between fracking and groundwater contamination
Study finds no link between fracking and groundwater contamination

Researchers from the University of Texas found no connection between natural gas fracking and elevated levels of methane found in some North Texas wells. The study, published in the journal Water Resources Research, investigated groundwater across the Barnett Shale natural gas field in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Out of more than 450 wells tested across 12 counties, the researchers reported that the vast majority contained little or no methane; however, a cluster of 11 wells near the line between the Parker and Hood counties showed higher levels. The researchers ultimately concluded that the methane cluster was due to natural deep rock formation, not fracking, as reported by Houston Public Media.

“Protecting groundwater quality is a fundamental requirement for sustainable energy development, and it is important to develop tools that can be used to monitor ongoing gas exploration and production activities,” said Lead Author Toti Larson.

According to University of Texas, the researchers used the chemistry of dissolved gases in groundwater to identify their likely sources, particularly nitrogen gas to determine the origin of methane. The study was funded by Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, authorized by the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005. While this latest study confirms a lack of relationship between fracking and methane in groundwater for the Barnett Shale area, it does not rule out possible contamination in other areas, Larson said. Separate research from Stanford University found a relationship between groundwater contamination and fracking in Pennsylvania and North Texas, possibly due to faulty industry infrastructure and gas leaks.