Story by Marie-Helene Thibeault
Source, UToday, University of Calgary
Prof. Bernhard Mayer from the Department of Geoscience in the Faculty of Science at the University of Calgary was part of a 14-member multidisciplinary expert panel that wrote a report addressing the environmental and health impacts associated with the exploration, extraction and development of Canada’s shale gas resources.
Requested by Environment Canada and published on May 1 by the Council of Canadian Academies, the Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada report concludes that shale gas development must be supported by well-targeted science and management strategies to better understand and mitigate potential environmental impacts.
Prof. Mayer was recruited to the panel because of his extensive expertise in tracing the sources and formation pathways of methane in the environment. Mayer provided considerable expertise, especially with respect to tracing potential stray gas leakage, or the lack thereof, into shallow groundwater and with approaches for potential monitoring programs in shale gas plays.
“Methane generated by micro-organisms in shallow environments such as swamps or anoxic shallow groundwater has quite a different isotopic fingerprint than thermogenic methane that is generated at elevated temperatures and pressures deep in the earth,” explains Mayer, who received significant funding from Alberta Environment, Alberta Innovates Energy and Environment Solutions for baseline analyses on gases derived from groundwater sampled throughout the province over the past years.