Simulating Mobility of Chemical Contaminants from Unconventional Gas Development for Protection of Water Resources

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Cynthia Kanno, David Edlin, Travis Borrillo-Hutter and John E McCray, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO, United States
Potential contamination of ground water and surface water supplies from chemical contaminants in hydraulic fracturing fluids or in natural gas is of high public concern. However, quantitative assessments have rarely been conducted at specific energy-producing locations so that the true risk of contamination can be evaluated. The most likely pathways for contamination are surface spills and faulty well bores that leak production fluids directly into an aquifer. This study conducts fate and transport simulations of the most mobile chemical contaminants, based on reactivity to subsurface soils, degradation potential, and source concentration, to better understand which chemicals are most likely to contaminate water resources, and to provide information to planners who wish to be prepared for accidental releases. The simulations are intended to be most relevant to the Niobrara shale formation.