USGS study: Historic oil and gas development didn't add to metals in brines | Prairie Public Broadcasting

USGS study: Historic oil and gas development didn't add to metals in brines

Jul 22, 2019

Credit Courtesy US Geological Survey

The US Geological Survey has been doing research into how historic oil and gas production in the Williston Basin has affected native amphibians in the Prairie Pothole Region.

The study specifically looked at wastewater produced by the historic oil activity, and whether metals that occur in those brines ended up in wetlands, and affected the amphibians.

"What we found, with this piece of our puzzle, is that the metals we found in these wetlands were not related to oil and gas production," said USGS research hydrologist Kelly Smalling. "We couldn't correlate them with brine contamination in either the sediments that were sampled or the amphibians that we collected."

USGS scientists specifically looked at the barred tiger salamander, the northern leopard frog and the boreal chorus frog.

Smalling said the research could give some insight into what happens – and what to do – when spills occur.

"Now, with the recent advancements in disposal practices, the ecological consequences have greatly been diminished," Smalling said. "This should help resource managers understand how quickly to clean up a spill, and help them understand what conservation and mitigation efforts should be put into place to help the amphibian population, as well as other aquatic organisms in the area."