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Microbial Community Dynamics in the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle from Two Newly Fractured Shale Gas Wells in the Duvernay Formation, Alberta Open Access


Other title
hydraulic fracturing water cycle
16S rRNA gene sequencing
halotolerant bacteria
flowback and produced water
microbial community dynamics
shale gas
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Zhong, Cheng
Supervisor and department
Lanoil, Brian (Biological Sciences)
Alessi, Daniel (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
Muehlenbachs, Karlis (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
Goss, Greg (Biological Sciences)
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-11:Fall 2017
Master of Science
Degree level
The microbial ecology of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle may influence the efficiency of shale gas production and strategies for water reuse and treatment. In this study, microbial community dynamics were tracked by sequencing of 16S rRNA genes coupled with enumeration of live/dead cells in flowback and produced water (FPW) from two newly fractured Duvernay shale oil and gas wells (112-115C). For both wells sampled, I found that numbers of total cells, microbial diversity and richness were considerably reduced, the highly diverse initial freshwater communities rapidly shifted to become dominated by halotolerant genus Halanaerobium, and subsequently DNA was insufficient for sequencing. Moreover, lower cell viability, microbial diversity, and faster enrichment in Halanaerobium were observed in the early period of FPW from the well that used recycled produced water (RPW). Furthermore, I discovered in a separate experiment that adding 10% RPW in freshwater quickly enriched Halanaerobium, and fostered other heterotrophic genera affiliated to the class Alphaproteobacteria before injection. My results have implication of microbial ecology in high temperature brine may not consistent with low temperature brine, the predominance members of Halanaerobium may pose a risk of detrimental impact from microorganisms downhole, and undesirable bacteria may alter original freshwater communities before fracturing due to FPW recycling.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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