Date of Award

5-15-2015

Embargo Date

5-15-2016

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Earth Sciences

Advisor(s)

Laura K. Lautz

Keywords

Contamination, Groundwater, Hydraulic Fracturing, Marcellus Shale, Methane

Subject Categories

Physical Sciences and Mathematics

Abstract

This study explores whether spatial parameters (e.g. landscape position, distance to nearest gas well, geologic unit of water extraction) corresponded with the spatial distribution of methane concentrations in domestic drinking water wells overlying the Marcellus Shale in New York State, where unconventional shale gas extraction is currently banned. Domestic groundwater wells (n=204) were sampled across five counties (Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben, and Tioga) in New York from 2012-2014. Based on analysis of water from homeowner wells sampled in 2013 the majority of samples (77%) had low concentrations of methane (< 0.1 mg/L), and only 5% of wells (n=7) had actionable levels of methane (> 10 mg/L), in the absence of shale gas production. Dissolved methane concentrations are not strongly correlated with landscape position, as observed in prior studies, nor other parameters indicative of subsurface planes of weakness (i.e. faults or lineaments). The distribution of elevated methane levels was most strongly correlated with Na-HCO3 water type. While the majority of all groundwater samples (55%) were classified as Ca-HCO3-type waters, 93% of those wells have

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Open Access

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