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M-CUBED: Hydraulic Fracturing of Shales: Water Contamination Risks, Treatment Options, and Fate of Fracking Fluids


Recent advances in directional drilling have made extraction of natural gas and oil from shale formations economically viable via high-volume hydraulic fracturing, a process by which a mixture of water, sand and chemicals is injected into geologic formations at high pressure in order to create migration pathways for the release of entrapped oil and natural gas. Several water quality impacts may occur including: (1) release of naturally occurring radioactive material and heavy metals from newly exposed minerals into fracking fluids, (2) generation of high volumes of contaminated post-fracking fluids, which must be treated and/or properly disposed of at the surface, (3) potential migration of the fluids and gases left in the formation into potable water reservoirs. This project seeks to study contaminant release and transport mechanisms, treatment options, and life cycle assessment of the environmental impacts of fracking fluids in comparison to other oil and gas extraction techniques.

University of Michigan - Office of Provost
Research Areas
Urban Systems and Built Environment
Water Resources