South Atlantic Water Science Center - North Carolina Office
Cooperating AgenciesNC DENR, Duke University, Lee and Chatham County Health Depts., NC Cooperative Extension Service
Period of Project
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NC Shale Gas Baseline Groundwater Sampling Project
Simpson well. Photo by Jeff Reid, North Carolina Geological Survey
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) North Carolina Water Science Center is conducting an inventory of well records and baseline groundwater-quality sampling to better delineate areas of groundwater use and groundwater-quality characteristics prior to potential shale gas exploration in the Triassic Basins of Lee and Chatham Counties, North Carolina (fig. 1). Shale Gas exploration has become economically viable in many areas of the United States (http://www.eia.doe.gov/oil_gas/rpd/shaleusa2.pdf) as a result of improved directional drilling capabilities and hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") techniques. The compilation of baseline groundwater-quality data in North Carolina is an opportunity for comparison to data collected after drilling activities commence should the State allow Shale Gas exploration to occur. In June 2011, the North Carolina Legislature passed House Bill 242 directing the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR) to study issues related to potential Shale Gas Exploration in the Triassic Basins of the State (http://www.ncleg.net/sessions/2011/bills/house/pdf/h242v2.pdf).
Figure 1. North Carolina Shale Gas Well Inventory Study Area (PDF)