We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Dynamic baselines for the detection of water quality impacts – the case of shale gas development

Worrall, Fred and Davies, Richard J. and Hart, Alwyn (2021) 'Dynamic baselines for the detection of water quality impacts – the case of shale gas development.', Environmental science : processes and impacts., 23 (8). pp. 1116-1129.


There is a need for the development of effective baselines against which the water quality impacts of new developments can be assessed. The specific conductance of flowback water from shale gas operations is typically many times the specific conductance of surface water and near-surface groundwater. This contrast in specific conductance means that specific conductance could be the ideal determinand for detecting water quality impacts from shale gas extraction. If specific conductance is to be used for detecting the impacts of shale gas operations, then a baseline of specific conductance in water bodies is required. Here, Bayesian hierarchical modelling of specific conductance was applied across English groundwater. The modelling used existing, spot-sampled data from the years 2000 to 2018 from 537 unique borehole locations. When the differences between boreholes was considered, then the approach was sufficiently sensitive to detect 1% mixing of fracking fluid in groundwater at a 95% confidence interval. The Bayesian hierarchical modelling maximises the return on public investment and provides a means by which future observations can be judged.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence.
Date accepted:10 May 2021
Date deposited:27 August 2021
Date of first online publication:18 June 2021
Date first made open access:27 August 2021

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar