Selenium Enrichment in Carboniferous Shales, Britain and Ireland: Problem or Opportunity for Shale Gas Extraction?

John Parnell, Connor Brolly, Sam Spinks, Stephen Bowden

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The Carboniferous Bowland Shale in England, and its correlatives in Ireland, contain anomalously high concentrations of trace elements, including selenium (Se), molybdenum (Mo) and arsenic (As). High levels of these elements reflect high sulphur contents as these elements occur as trace constituents of pyrite. Anomalous Se in particular may have a volcanic provenance, from contemporary volcanic activity and/or drainage from Ordovician volcanogenic sulphide deposits. Following concern over the release of Se and As into groundwater during shale gas extraction in the US, the potential fate of Se and As during any future shale gas extraction from the Bowland Shale merits attention. It is at least an environmental issue that must be managed, but at best it could be an opportunity for extraction of Se in an environmentally sensitive manner.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-87
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Geochemistry : Journal of the International Association of Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry
Early online date12 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016



  • selenium
  • molybdenum
  • arsenic
  • Bowland Shale
  • carboniferous
  • shale gas

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