Development of shale gas resources through the use of hydraulic fracturing has raised a multitude of environmental concerns and motivated research towards the understanding of shale gas systems. Previous research has demonstrated the potential of utilizing hydrocarbon distributions towards the fingerprinting of a potential environmental contamination event arising from shale gas operations. However, to apply hydrocarbon distributions from shale gas wells towards point-source identification and apportionment, a better understanding of hydrocarbon origins must be achieved. Here we present an efficient and repeatable thermal desorption method, as a sample introduction methodology for GC × GC analysis of shale rock samples that results in comparable chromatograms to those produced by solvent extraction. This novel and robust characterization technique of shale cores from Marcellus and Utica formations by thermal desorption followed by GC × GC enables the understanding of hydrocarbon speciation within the native rock with minimal sample preparation time and solvent use. The detailed shale chemistry gives insight into utilizing hydrocarbon differences towards point-source identification methodologies of environmental contamination events associated with unconventional gas development. Additionally, this analytical technique may provide a more detailed analysis of hydrocarbons than what is currently implemented in the industry to pinpoint the most advantageous areas to exploit by hydraulic fracturing, yet avoiding undesirable areas such as those with a high abundance of sulfur containing compounds.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Analytical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry