Monitoring Groundwater in the Marcellus Shale Region

Project Details

Groundwater-quality monitoring in western Maryland

The potential for the production of natural gas in western Maryland has increased interest in the groundwater-quality of the Appalachian Plateau of western Maryland, including Garrett and Allegany Counties. In order to identify any future impacts on groundwater-quality, a baseline must be established prior to production activities. Additionally, such a baseline may reveal current groundwater-quality issues that were previously unknown.

In order to establish this baseline, the Maryland Geological Survey is collecting groundwater samples from multiple wells in Garrett and Allegany Counties, and analyzing them for a suite of inorganic constituents, including major ions, trace elements, nutrients, and radionuclides, as well as for light hydrocarbon gases such as methane. Twenty wells have been sampled in recent years for a full suite of inorganic constituents, and eighty-seven have been sampled for light hydrocarbon gases only. Twenty-five additional wells are being sampled in 2015 for inorganic constituents.

The data obtained from these wells, along with data previously acquired from the Garrett County Health Department, the Maryland Department of the Environment, and the United States Geological Survey, will be summarized in a Report of Investigations of groundwater quality in the region in spring-summer 2016.