Fracking and Its Impact on Groundwater: Lessons From Alberta

March 22, 2012 - 1:00am to 3:00am

Featuring Professor Karlis Muehlenbachs
Department of Earth & Atmospheric Science, U of A

As it spreads across Canada and around the world, the process of fracking -- the injection of a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to create fractures in order to extract shale gas, coal bed methane and oil -- has come under increasing scrutiny, with some jurisdictions placing moratoriums or outright bans on fracking until more is known about its impacts. Landowners, some of who are able to light their water on fire due to contamination they say is due to fracking, are fighting back against the process, saying the risks to water are too great. What impact is fracking already having on Alberta's groundwater? Is it really a harmless and safe process as the oil and gas industry claims, or is this "game-changer" process that promises to unlock almost limitless supplies of previusly inaccessible fossil fuels a risk to our water?

Professor Karlis Muehlenbachs is a geochemist at the University of Alberta. He is a leading authority on a process which can identify the unique carbon fingerprint or isotopes of shale and conventional gases to determine their source and migration. He and his team have used this carbon isotope fingerprinting to create a database of the entire Western Canada Sedimentary Basin, lately concentrating on shale gas. His work on fracking and isotope fingerprinting, and his warnings about the risks of fracking, have been featured recently in two articles by The Tyee's Andrew Nikoforuk (available online at and

Presented by the Council of Canadians Edmonton Chapter, co-sponsored by the Parkland Institute.


Telus Centre Room 134 University of Alberta
Edmonton , AB