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Friday 06 Mar 2020Assessing risk to groundwater contamination from subsurface activities

Olivia Milton-Thompson - University of Exeter

Harrison 103 14:35-15:25


The presentation will begin by giving an initial background on the energy situation in the UK and globally and the benefits and concerns facing the fracking industry in the UK along with its fast development in North America. The boundaries of the risk assessment will be highlighted along with the main focus of the research conducted during the PhD. The three models constructed to assess groundwater contamination will be discussed for the injection and production wells and the two main case studies of focus, Canada and the UK will be discussed with respect to the models and the future of the industry.


Olivia has spent the past 4 years working on her PhD within the Water Informatics, Science and Engineering doctoral partnership at Exeter University, funded by EPSRC. She has a BSc in Chemistry from Durham and an MSc in Environmental Water Management from Cranfield University and spent some time out in Nevada, USA working on a project focusing on sulphate-reducing bacteria in hydraulically fractured wells.

She recently completed her PhD which focused on assessing groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing using fuzzy logic methods. Her PhD demonstrated the success of using fuzzy logic within subsurface environments where data is lacking or knowledge is more qualitative than quantitative. She focused on two high-risk stages during hydraulic fracturing; injection and production, demonstrating the application of the models developed for a new industry such as the UK. The model also demonstrated scope for application for alternative subsurface engineered environments such as geological disposal or CO2 sequestration. Olivia spent 3 months in Vancouver, Canada during her PhD where she worked with their data and with academic and industry experts in the field of hydraulic fracturing.

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