Shale-Water Interaction Forensic Tools
Developing sensitive tests for detecting contamination associated with shale bed methane production in the Appalachian Basin
Maintaining access to abundant clean water, while also meeting our increasing demand for cleaner energy is a major societal challenge. The largest natural gas play in the United States, the Marcellus Shale, is tapped using a technique called hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking. In contrast to the recent shale gas boom in Pennsylvania, New York State is now under a hydrofracking ban. There is an unprecedented opportunity to complete a thorough, large-scale, unbiased assessment of water quality pre-hydrofracking, to facilitate detection of water quality impairment post-hydrofracking.
Project SWIFT is a large-scale water quality program that disseminates water quality testing information to participating land owners, while also involving them in the development of a publically-available water quality database and a geochemical fingerprinting tool specifically developed for identifying potential water quality impairment due to hydraulic fracturing. We are involving local residents of communities underlain by the Marcellus Shale in a large-scale, unbiased sampling of the region’s surface and groundwater quality.