Dr. Shikha Sharma, an assistant professor at West Virginia University and the lead researcher of a new WVU study looking at the source of methane found in water supplies (see this MDN story), says those who think that hydraulic fracturing is the cause of methane found in their water supply may be wrong. And she can prove it—scientifically.
Those who believe their drinking water wells may be contaminated with methane released by natural gas fracking may be wrong, according to a West Virginia University professor.
"The source of methane gas can range from active or inactive deep coal mines, landfills, gas storage fields or microbial gas generated in a shallow subsurface," said assistant professor Shikha Sharma, noting that dissolved methane gas already exists in groundwater where there is no shale gas drilling.
"As a scientist, it is my job to stay focused on the scientific perspective of this study while staying neutral on the political and social issues associated with it," she added.
In the midst of a study on the origins of methane gas in the Monongahela River watershed and other areas of this region, Sharma stops short of saying that fracking, or hydraulic fracturing of the shale, absolutely does not release methane into groundwater.
"Depending on how and where this methane is formed, it can have very different C and H isotope signatures. This gives us the ability to know if it comes from hydrofracking releases or some other source," she said.*
*The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register (Oct 11, 2011) – WVU Professor: Methane Already in Groundwater