Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM
HEAVY METAL DISTRIBUTION IN SURFICIAL WATER: A POSSIBLE LINK TO HYDROCARBON EXPLORATION AND EXTRACTION, MIDDLE SUSQUEHANNA RIVER SUB-BASIN, PENNSYLVANIA
Several environmental and human health concerns have emerged in the past few years due to the recent boom of hydrocarbon exploration and the new hydraulic fracturing methods involved. Although many different concerns exist, groundwater contamination has continually been the focal point of water issues relating to hydraulic fracturing. Surficial water has a fast residence time in the hydrologic cycle and does not directly impact humans as much as groundwater; therefore, it tends to be overlooked. For a chance to better understand the interaction between surface water and hydraulic fracturing, this project helps to determine if hydraulic fracturing is influencing the local watershed. Water samples were collected from tributaries leading into the Susquehanna River, from Bradford and Wyoming Counties, PA, to measure the concentrations of potential pollutants. Concentrations of heavy metals, such as arsenic, strontium, selenium, barium, nickel, cadmium, lead, copper, and zinc, were measured by means of atomic absorption spectrophotometry. On-site measurements, comprising of temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and turbidity, were also measured. A statistical analysis of the collected data was interpreted and graphical representations were produced to portray the results. Results of the analyzed data showing a trend in increased concentration levels of pollutants with distinct distribution patterns could be considered a link to hydraulic fracturing. Effluence in surficial water can be acquired via runoff, which can originate from different phases of the hydraulic fracturing process; specifically, the handling and disposal of all fluids. This project holds the groundwork for additional research to understand the relationship between surficial water and hydraulic fracturing. Further investigation and modeling can be attempted to recognize the following: how the pollutants are deposited and transported, watershed quality and impacts (negative or positive), if the pollutants found are at levels that can endanger human health, and, most importantly, whether hydraulic fracturing can be labeled as a point-source or not.