Baseline groundwater monitoring for shale gas extraction: definition of baseline conditions and recommendations from a real site (Wysin, Northern Poland)

N. Montcoudiol, D. Banks, C. Isherwood, A. Gunning, N. Burnside

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Public concerns have been raised regarding the use of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas extraction and its potential impact on the environment. The absence of baseline monitoring data in the US experience has been identified as a major issue. Here, results from a 6-month groundwater baseline monitoring study near an active shale gas pad in northern Poland are presented. The data collected in dedicated boreholes include groundwater samples analysed for inorganic constituents, dissolved gases and stables isotopes (δ2H and δ18O) and downhole temperature and conductivity measurements at 15-min intervals. A robust statistical analysis combined with an estimation of data uncertainty helps to identify spatial and temporal variability within the datasets. As a result, baseline conditions are defined using confidence intervals around the mean on a per-well basis and these will serve for future reference for this site. The groundwater chemical composition is similar to regional background levels and typical of Quaternary aquifers in the region. It is also consistent with previous baseline monitoring carried out by the Polish Geological Institute. Only manganese and bromide occur in groundwater at concentrations above Polish drinking water standards. Based on this work, the paper provides some recommendations for future baseline monitoring and identifies areas for future research such as use of statistics for high-frequency datasets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-384
Number of pages20
JournalActa Geophysica
Issue number1
Early online date2 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2019


  • hydraulic fracturing
  • shale gas
  • Europe
  • baseline monitoring
  • groundwater

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