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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2013 Dec;86(3):567-80. doi: 10.1111/1574-6941.12183. Epub 2013 Aug 13.

Microbial communities in flowback water impoundments from hydraulic fracturing for recovery of shale gas.

Author information

1
National Energy Technology Laboratory, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Abstract

Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction from shale produces waste brine known as flowback that is impounded at the surface prior to reuse and/or disposal. During impoundment, microbial activity can alter the fate of metals including radionuclides, give rise to odorous compounds, and result in biocorrosion that complicates water and waste management and increases production costs. Here, we describe the microbial ecology at multiple depths of three flowback impoundments from the Marcellus shale that were managed differently. 16S rRNA gene clone libraries revealed that bacterial communities in the untreated and biocide-amended impoundments were depth dependent, diverse, and most similar to species within the taxa γ-proteobacteria, α-proteobacteria, δ-proteobacteria, Clostridia, Synergistetes, Thermotogae, Spirochetes, and Bacteroidetes. The bacterial community in the pretreated and aerated impoundment was uniform with depth, less diverse, and most similar to known iodide-oxidizing bacteria in the α-proteobacteria. Archaea were identified only in the untreated and biocide-amended impoundments and were affiliated to the Methanomicrobia class. This is the first study of microbial communities in flowback water impoundments from hydraulic fracturing. The findings expand our knowledge of microbial diversity of an emergent and unexplored environment and may guide the management of flowback impoundments.

KEYWORDS:

flowback water; hydraulic fracturing; impoundments; petroleum microbiology

PMID:
23875618
DOI:
10.1111/1574-6941.12183
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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