Seismicity will be investigated by seismologists from BGS and the Universities of Liverpool and Bristol. Urban centres (e.g. Blackpool, Preston) make seismic response noisy. In both study areas, obtaining meaningful low-magnitude signals requires a high-density array and experimentation with new sensors below surface, i.e. in boreholes.
New surface seismometers have been deployed at monitoring sites in both Lancashire and Yorkshire for monitoring background seismicity for improved detection of natural earthquakes and also events induced by human activity. Novel instruments will also be tested in newly-drilled boreholes. A new laser activated fibre-optic system is being developed in the UK for this purpose.
Atmospheric scientists from the University of Manchester and University of York (NCAS) are conducting investigations into baseline occurrence and variability in atmospheric composition and will monitor for evidence of change.
In Lancashire, background methane and carbon dioxide concentrations have been measured continuously since late 2014 at a fixed location close to one of the proposed shale-gas well sites. These, together with meteorological information, e.g. wind direction, are being used to characterise variations in both natural and existing manmade inputs to the near surface atmosphere before any shale-gas activity starts. A similar site investigation is planned in the Vale of Pickering, Yorkshire. Additional monitoring equipment in also being set up at both sites for measurement of a suite of air-quality parameters such as Particulate Matter (PM), NO2 (from e.g. generators, traffic, plant, flares, dust and materials handling), VOCs and non-methane hydrocarbons.
In the areas of investigation, BGS is carrying out an analysis of how the ground surface has changed over time, either through natural processes or as a result of human development (mining, road building, etc). This uses satellite-based radar data that allows millimetric changes in ground elevation to be detected.
Soil and near surface gas monitoring will be carried out by scientists from the British Geological Survey. In Lancashire, background concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), oxygen (O2), hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and radon (Rn) have been measured in the soil. In addition, CO2 flux (the rate at which the gas is coming out of the ground) has also been measured. These measurements provide baseline data collected prior to any shale gas related operations in the area.
Similar baseline monitoring is being carried out in the Vale of Pickering. Near–surface atmospheric gases (CO2 and CH4) may be measured using laser gas analysers mounted on a quad bike or similar all–terrain vehicle. This makes continuous measurements as the vehicle is driven across the fields.
As part of the environmental monitoring investigation, measurement of radon in air will be carried out by Public Health England. The project will involve measurement of baseline concentrations of radon both in the open air and in homes.
Contact BGS enquiries for further information.