No Evidence of Fracking Fluid Migration to Aquifers

fracking fluid migration -  Tom Shepstone Reports Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


The US Department of Energy has just released the results of a study indicating no evidence of fracking fluid migration to groundwater aquifers.

A US Department of Energy study by its National Technology Energy Laboratory was released yesterday and it’s the good news everyone familiar with the industry and its history expected, but it predictably disappointed a lot of fractivists who are already moaning, groaning and making excuses. The report entitled “An Evaluation of Fracture Growth and Gas/Fluid Migration as Horizontal Marcellus Shale Gas Wells are Hydraulically Fractured in Greene County, Pennsylvania,” is filled with detailed data and superb charts. It speaks for itself, but is somewhat technical. The end result is this; there is no evidence of fracking fluid migration anywhere near water supplies.

Here are some of the highlights and a key chart from the report (emphasis added):

“This field study monitored the induced fracturing of six horizontal Marcellus Shale gas wells in Greene County, Pennsylvania. The study had two research objectives: 1) to determine the maximum height of fractures created by hydraulic fracturing at this location; and 2) to determine if natural gas or fluids from the hydraulically fractured Marcellus Shale had migrated 3,800 ft upward to an overlying Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian gas field during or after hydraulic fracturing.”

“The Tully Limestone occurs about 280 ft above the Marcellus Shale at this location and is considered to be a barrier to upward fracture growth when intact. Microseismic monitoring using vertical geophone arrays located 10,288 microseismic events during hydraulic fracturing; about 40% of the events were above the Tully Limestone, but all events were at least 2,000 ft below producing zones in the overlying Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian gas field, and more than 5,000 ft below drinking water aquifers.”

“Gas production and pressure histories from three Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian gas wells that directly overlie stimulated, horizontal Marcellus Shale gas wells recorded no production or pressure increase in the 12-month period after hydraulic fracturing. An increase would imply communication with the over-pressured Marcellus Formation below.”

“Current findings are: 1) no evidence of gas migration from the Marcellus Shale; and 2) no evidence of brine migration from the Marcellus Shale.”

Conclusions of this study are: 1) the impact of hydraulic fracturing on the rock mass did not extend to the Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian gas field; and 2) there has been no detectable migration of gas or aqueous fluids to the Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian gas field during the monitored period after hydraulic fracturing.

The statements are all from the Executive Summary, but there is more. The following chart, for example, displays where fracturing occurred relative to horizontal Marcellus Shale gas wells (A-F), vertical Marcellus Shale gas wells (MW-1 and MW-2), and vertical Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian gas wells (UD-1, UD-2, and UD- 5). Light blue spheres depict microseismic events located during the hydraulic fracturing of horizontal Marcellus Shale gas wells. There was no communication or opportunity for fracking fluid migration.

Fracking fluid migration

And, here is some more from the conclusions:

“Results of the carbon and hydrogen isotope analysis of gas produced from Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian wells demonstrated that hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale did not provide fracture pathways that allowed detectable amounts of gas from the Marcellus Shale to migrate to the Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian gas field.”

“Results of the strontium isotope signature analysis of produced water from Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian gas wells demonstrated that hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale did not provide fracture pathways that allowed detectable amounts of Marcellus Shale brine to migrate to the Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian field.”

Here is another chart illustrating the great depth separating the layers where fracturing took place from groundwater aquifers:

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 3.50.28 PM

Notice the great distance between the fracturing level and the aquifers. The study demonstrates nothing happened anywhere near the monitoring levels, let alone the levels where the aquifers are located, proving, yet again, what EPA and several states have repeated for years – there is no evidence of fracking fluid migration into water supplies.

This has forced the purveyors of doom and deliberate lies to the contrary of the evidence to take the Josh Fox cop-out of relying upon methane and drilling issues as if they were fracking related when they are not. They all end up there eventually, of course, but here is what the Delaware Riverkeeper said in August of last year to a fawning interviewer:

Getting gas out of shale is done by fracking, requiring an average of 5 million gallons of water for each well — poisoned with an unknown slurry of dangerous chemicals and forced into the earth to fracture the rock that holds the gas…The choice is not drilling and fracking or shivering cold and in the dark – the choice is drilling and fracking with all of its toxic pollution and climate changing devastation or clean energy from the sun, wind and earth that gives us a safe, healthy and bright future for all.

And, here is what she says now:

“There are a whole wealth of harms associated with shale gas development” separate from fracking, said Maya K. van Rossum of the Delaware Riverkeeper group. She mentioned methane gas leaks, wasteful use of fresh water, and air pollution, and said the DOE study confirms a point that the Riverkeeper has been making: that faulty well construction is the root cause of most problems, not natural geologic migration of chemicals.

Maya, like all fractivists, wants it both ways; she wants us to think fracking is dangerous until it’s proven otherwise and then, well, it must be something else, with the predictable lies about having always said that. Fortunately, the evidence is forcing these admissions more often than ever lately. Another study released over the weekend says much the same as this one (report here). Fracking fluid migration to water supplies doesn’t happen. Period.

Check out what else is new at NaturalGasNow today!


While you’re at it, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Linked-In!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

11 thoughts on “No Evidence of Fracking Fluid Migration to Aquifers

  1. the results of this study does not prove that migration couldn’t happen in other areas ( with different geology .When testing is done in ever area that is drilled and the results are the same then it would be conclusive .Until then it is still something that is not proven in total .

    • This scientific study really pokes at the heart of fear mongering activist against drilling. BUT IT IS NOT NEWS…
      The study is a reflection of similar studies by the EPA, USGS, Texas RRC, ACHS, MIT, and so many other studies dating back to the US-ARMY CORP OF ENGINEERS study. Dated 1961 in all different geologies across the lower 48 states

        • Bill
          Your selective argument is a piss poor one as the geology is similar and different in all 30+ states being drilled. Yet time after time in state and congressional hearings when asked, The states regulatory divisions all swore under oath that fracking had never caused a water aquifer to suffer pollution is like I stated… This SCIENTIFIC STUDY hits the soul, a stake driven through the heart of the anti compensated gas users who refuse to get off the very product they call evil

  2. Tom, two months of monitoring is but an instant in geological time – wouldn’t you agree? Who would expect these migrations to occur so quickly? When are the long-term and cumulative impacts of these practices going to be studied?

    As you know, the answer is never. We are in the midst of an industrial-scale experiment to see what happens. Are a few extra years of natural gas really worth the risks to the whole region?

    • Cliff
      Study after study over the last 50 years and more intense study during the last 30 years have yet to reveal one case of fracking polluting a water well. In 1961 a gas well was fracked using a nuclear devise 10x the power of the two we dropped on Japan in I believe Colorado. That frack failed for two reasons, it made the gas too radio active to use and it melted the rock making the gas unobtainable. HOWEVER… the EPA and the federal government have been and continue to monitor several water aquifers within a few miles of this well and have not seen any radiation or other effects from the atomic frack to date.

  3. Pingback: Study: Methane Migration Not Connected to FrackingNatural Gas Now

  4. look- we all know NO amount of evidence is enough to satisfy radical activists, who are untroubled by their personal pollution and energy consumption. they are on a religious crusade, a holy war that is roughly analogous to Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

  5. Pingback: Study: Methane Migration Not Connected to Fracking | ShaleNOW

  6. Pingback: No Evidence of Fracking Fluid Migration to Aquifers | ShaleNOW

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *