Ground Water Canada

Potential of fracking fluids escaping to aquifers subject of study

May 17, 2016  By Ground Water Canada

Westerville, OH – A recently published scientific paper explores the potential for fluids related to hydraulic fracturing to escape into usable aquifers through nearby abandoned wells.

The article was published in National Ground Water Association’s flagship technical journal, Groundwater, the NGWA said in a news release.

Titled “Influence of Hydraulic Fracturing on Overlying Aquifers in the Presence of Leaky Abandoned Wells,” it states fluids related to hydraulic fracturing escaping to aquifers could lead to upward leakage of contaminants.


Flows into abandoned wells, however, do not conclusively demonstrate contaminants from a fractured shale reservoir can migrate into the overlying aquifer because hydraulic characteristics of the well may limit migration. Moreover, production of the horizontal well after hydraulic fracturing can play a significant role in reducing or inhibiting potential upward leakage.

The paper is authored by Joshua W. Brownlow, PhD, of the Department of Geosciences at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

“This research indicates certain historical oil and gas activities may affect hydraulic fracturing, and these historical data need to be studied more closely,” Brownlow said in the release. “Hopefully, this study will help water managers and industry use our resources more effectively.”

Though not scheduled to appear until the September-October 2016 issue of Groundwater, the paper can be accessed now via Wiley Online Library, the database housing complete content information for the journal.

“This paper is very timely and addresses an important problem associated with fracturing,” Groundwater editor-in-chief Henk Haitjema, PhD, said. “While the study uses real data from an oil and gas play in Texas, its conceptual nature makes the results relevant to similar situations in other oil and gas plays.”

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