The potential environmental consequences of shale gas exploitation have been well publicised in the media, however it is rare to hear the scientific basis and the potential impacts on groundwater so this seminar was very well attended. Rob’s passion and enthusiasm for groundwater protection and management was clear throughout his talk, so it was excellent to hear a report on the scientific work that is being done more widely and how the BGS and the University of Nottingham are contributing to this.
|Rob Ward (left)|
Rob went on to talk about the ongoing experience in countries that are early adopters of shale gas such as the USA, but he emphasised that relying on this will not be enough to ensure groundwater protection in the UK as our geology is very complex. Detailed understanding of the 3D layering of rocks, faults and aquifers have been mapped by the BGS, but this needs to continue and extended. Rob explained that the BGS are monitoring the ground and surface water around some test sites and these areas are going through the planning process to help scientists know the current ‘baseline’ conditions. So if there are changes in the future due to shale gas extraction we will know about it. We were also told that to ensure safety of groundwater into the future, long term monitoring would be required during, and even after any wells have been abandoned.
More information about the work being undertaken by BGS on shale gas and groundwater can be found on the website here, this is a video of Rob talking from the BGS YouTube channel:
Overall, I personally found the seminar very thought provoking and it really highlighted the importance of taking a geological and approach to this increasingly debated issue.
By Mark Stevenson
PhD student at the University of Nottingham in the School of Geography
Read my previous blogs here