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Ground Water. 2014 May-Jun;52(3):424-33. doi: 10.1111/gwat.12083. Epub 2013 Jun 14.

Isotope approach to assess hydrologic connections during Marcellus Shale drilling.

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National Technology Laboratory-Regional University Alliance, United States.


Water and gas samples were collected from (1) nine shallow groundwater aquifers overlying Marcellus Shale in north-central West Virginia before active shale gas drilling, (2) wells producing gas from Upper Devonian sands and Middle Devonian Marcellus Shale in southwestern Pennsylvania, (3) coal-mine water discharges in southwestern Pennsylvania, and (4) streams in southwestern Pennsylvania and north-central West Virginia. Our preliminary results demonstrate that the oxygen and hydrogen isotope composition of water, carbon isotope composition of dissolved inorganic carbon, and carbon and hydrogen isotope compositions of methane in Upper Devonian sands and Marcellus Shale are very different compared with shallow groundwater aquifers, coal-mine waters, and stream waters of the region. Therefore, spatiotemporal stable isotope monitoring of the different sources of water before, during, and after hydraulic fracturing can be used to identify migrations of fluids and gas from deep formations that are coincident with shale gas drilling.

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