Fracking Chemicals Can Migrate Thousands of Feet Through Natural Fractures

Monitoring well

A new report by researchers at Duke University found that chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing can migrate thousands of feet through natural fractures.

Analyses of shallow groundwater samples found chemical matches to briny water from more than a mile deep in the rock. This shows that gas and water can migrate upwards and potentially contaminate drinking water sources. Critics point out that the migration of fluids through the rock could take thousands of years.


Drilling advocates have insisted that the methane and chemicals found in drinking water wells near fracking sites are natural. The study did not find fracking chemicals in the shallow groundwater and previous studies have found that the artificial fractures produced by fracking extend less than a mile from the well. However, this latest study shows the routes to possible contamination exist already.

Monitoring well photo via Shutterstock

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Author: Heather Carr

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