Department of Earth Sciences

Environmental effects of Shale-Gas fracking

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of significant shale gas reserves found throughout Europe outlines the need to understand the potential impact of adapting the technology. The mission of FracRisk is to develop knowledge base and formulate scientific recommendations towards minimising the environmental footprint for shale gas exploration and exploitation. One important objective in preventing and mitigating the risk is to develop a decision support tool for risk quantification.

FracRisk  ( focuses on the following activities:  

  1. Assessment of the environmental impact (footprint) expressed in seismic activities and released substances in the environment involved in the exploration and production of shale gas resources based on the understanding of the geophysical, subsurface flow and transport processes involved, available geological, hydrogeological and geophysical data and appropriate source term and boundary conditions;
  2. Forward modelling with mathematical models to predict the effect of migration of chemicals and gases, and the mechanical effects (seismics), together with risk and uncertainty assessment based on six focused exemplary scenarios (before, during and after fracking operations) to direct cost effective data gathering;
  3. Develop and test a framework for risk assessment to be used both by regulators and contractors, based on the well-known ASTM RBCA (Risk Based Corrective Action) paradigm.
  4. Development of criteria for appropriate monitoring strategies to measure baseline conditions, as a pre-warning system and to validate mathematical models and concepts;
  5. Provision of scientific recommendations and a knowledge base for best practices for shale gas development and with direct application and relevance to the provision of consistent regulation.

The role of the geohydrology group in Uppsala University is to carry out modeling of the hydromechanical and chemical effects of the fracking operation.  

Contact: Auli Niemi