Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

George F. Pinder


Hydraulic fracturing is used to extract oil and natural gas from low permeability formations. The potential of fluids migrating from depth through adjacent wellbores and through the production wellbore was investigated using statistical modeling and predic-tive classifiers. The probability of a hydraulic fracturing well becoming hydraulically connected to an adjacent well in the Marcellus shale of New York was determined to be between 0.00% and 3.45% at the time of the study. This means that the chance of an in-duced fracture from hydraulic fracturing intersecting an existing well is highly dependent on the area of increased permeability caused by fracturing. The chance of intersecting an existing well does not mean that fluid will flow upwards; for upward migration to occur, a pathway must exist and a pressure gradient is required to drive flow, with the exception of gas flow caused by buoyancy. Predictive classifiers were employed on a dataset of wells in Alberta Canada to identify well characteristics most associated to fluid migration along the production well. The models, specifically a random forest, were able to identify pathways better than random guessing with 78% of wells in the data set identified cor-rectly.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to visualize and quantify contami-nant transport in a soil column using a full body scanner. T1 quantification was used to determine the concentration of a contaminant surrogate in the form of Magnevist, an MRI contrast agent. Imaging showed a strong impact from density driven convection when the density difference between the two fluids was small (0.3%). MRI also identified a buildup of contrast agent concentration at the interface between a low permeability ground silica and higher permeability AFS 50-70 testing sand when density driven con-vection was eliminated.



Number of Pages

197 p.