Release of Particulate Iron Sulfide during Shale-Fluid Interaction

Yevgeny Kreisserman, Simon Emmanuel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


During hydraulic fracturing, a technique often used to extract hydrocarbons from shales, large volumes of water are injected into the subsurface. Although the injected fluid typically contains various reagents, it can become further contaminated by interaction with minerals present in the rocks. Pyrite, which is common in organic-rich shales, is a potential source of toxic elements, including arsenic and lead, and it is generally thought that for these elements to become mobilized, pyrite must first dissolve. Here, we use atomic force microscopy and environmental scanning electron microscopy to show that during fluid-rock interaction, the dissolution of carbonate minerals in Eagle Ford shale leads to the physical detachment, and mobilization, of embedded pyrite grains. In experiments carried out over a range of pH, salinity, and temperature we found that in all cases pyrite particles became detached from the shale surfaces. On average, the amount of pyrite detached was equivalent to 6.5 × 10-11 mol m-2 s-1, which is over an order of magnitude greater than the rate of pyrite oxidation expected under similar conditions. This result suggests that mechanical detachment of pyrite grains could be an important pathway for the mobilization of arsenic in hydraulic fracturing operations and in groundwater systems containing shales.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)638-643
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 16 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


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