We intend to monitor
- Groundwater – including baseline and ongoing groundwater monitoring for chemistry, dissolved gases (such as methane), stable isotopes, organics, residence time indicators, and naturally occurring radionuclides (NORM)
- Induced seismicity related to fracking
- Baseline for operational fugitive emissions and air quality assessment
- Ground motion (subsidence and uplift) - through iSBAS ground motion inSAR
- Fluid flowback from the fracking process
Initially, two operators, Centrica and Cuadrilla, have agreed to provide access to their data and operations for the science-based monitoring programme, from baseline measurements through to hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and production tests to post operation (abandonment). We will do this with a consortium involving the universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Loughborough and Manchester and the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) operated by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS).
Our scientists and those of our partners have already started planning field activities and will be intensifying actions in the region in February 2015.
We consider that this programme will:
- Help regulators refine their protocols for the UK shale industry
- Inform the public, concerned groups and operators on baseline levels in the immediate area of a shale gas extraction site
- Provide the public with information and understanding on the effects of shale gas extraction
- Improve scientific understanding of the UK sub-surface environment for unconventional hydrocarbons which is significantly different to that of the USA and Canada
- Facilitate new sensor technology development for environmental monitoring
- Help establish good practice for industries involved in the development of unconventional hydrocarbons
- Establish world-leading expertise