A new research project at the University of Cincinnati (UC) is taking a groundbreaking approach to monitoring groundwater resources near hydraulic fracturing (fracking) sites in the state of Ohio. Conducted by Claire Botner, a UC graduate student in geology, the research is part of UC Groundwater Research of Ohio (GRO), a collaborative research project based out of the university to examine the effects of fracking on groundwater in the Utica Shale region of the eastern part of the state.
First launched in Carroll County in 2012, the GRO team of researchers is examining methane levels and origins of methane in private wells and springs before, during and after the onset of fracking. The team travels to the region to take water samples four times a year. Amy Townsend-Small, the lead researcher for GRO and a UC assistant professor of geology, said the UC study is unique in comparison with studies on water wells in other shale-rich areas of the U.S. where fracking is taking place -- such as the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania.
Townsend-Small explained that water samples finding natural gas-derived methane in wells near Pennsylvania fracking sites were taken only after fracking had occurred, so methane levels in those wells were not documented prior to or during fracking in Pennsylvania. The Ohio samples are being analyzed by UC researchers for concentrations of methane as well as other hydrocarbons and salt, which are pulled up in the fracking water mixture from the shales. The shales are ancient ocean sediments.To read more, including the results of testing to this point, click here.
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