A new study looks at how fluids related to hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" can escape into aquifers via nearby leaky abandoned wells.
This could lead to upward leakage of contaminants; however, flows into leaky wells do not conclusively demonstrate that contaminants from a fractured shale reservoir can migrate into the overlying aquifer because hydraulic characteristics of the well may limit migration. Moreover, production of the horizontal well after hydraulic fracturing can play a significant role in reducing or inhibiting potential upward leakage.
"This research indicates certain historical oil and gas activities may affect hydraulic fracturing, and these historical data need to be studied more closely," said Dr. Joshua Brownlow, lead author of the Groundwater study. "Hopefully, this study will help water managers and industry use our resources more effectively."