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Integrating Geophysics and Geochemistry to Evaluate Coalbed Natural Gas Produced Water Disposal, Powder River Basin, Wyoming.

Lipinski, Brian Andrew (2007) Integrating Geophysics and Geochemistry to Evaluate Coalbed Natural Gas Produced Water Disposal, Powder River Basin, Wyoming. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Production of methane from thick, extensive coalbeds in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming has created water management issues. More than 4.1 billion barrels of water have been produced with coalbed natural gas (CBNG) since 1997. Infiltration impoundments, which are the principal method used to dispose CBNG water, contribute to the recharge of underlying aquifers. Airborne electromagnetic surveys of an alluvial aquifer that has been receiving CBNG water effluent through infiltration impoundments since 2001 reveal produced water plumes within these aquifers and also provide insight into geomorphologic controls on resultant salinity levels. Geochemical data from the same aquifer reveal that CBNG water enriched in sodium and bicarbonate infiltrates and mixes with sodium-calcium-sulfate type alluvial groundwater, which subsequently may have migrated into the Powder River. The highly sodic produced water undergoes cation exchange reactions with native alluvial sediments as it infiltrates, exchanging sodium from solution for calcium and magnesium on montmorillonite clays. The reaction may ultimately reduce sediment permeability by clay dispersion. Strontium isotope data from CBNG wells discharging water into these impoundments indicate that the Anderson coalbed of the Fort Union Formation is dewatered due to production. Geophysical methods provide a broad-scale tool to monitor CBNG water disposal especially in areas where field based investigations are logistically prohibitive, but geochemical data are needed to reveal subsurface processes undetectable by geophysical techniques. The results of this research show that: (1) CBNG impoundments should not be located near streams because they can alter the surrounding hydraulic potential field forcing saline alluvial groundwater and eventually CBNG water into the stream, (2) point bars are poor impoundment locations because they are essentially in direct hydraulic communication with the associated stream and because plants readily transpire shallow groundwater within them creating vadose zone salt accumulations that will be dissolved by infiltrating CBNG water, and (3) cation exchange reactions in vadose zone sediments may reduce soil permeability beneath infiltration impoundments through clay dispersion lowering their designed disposal capacity.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lipinski, Brian
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHarbert, Williamharbert@pitt.eduHARBERT
Committee MemberSmith,
Committee MemberRosenmeier, Michaelmrosenme@pitt.eduMROSENME
Committee MemberCapo, Rosemaryrcapo@pitt.eduRCAPO
Committee MemberAnderson, Thomastaco@pitt.eduTACO
Date: 22 June 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 16 March 2007
Approval Date: 22 June 2007
Submission Date: 30 March 2007
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Geology and Planetary Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: coalbed methane; Fort Union Formation; hydrogeophysics; San Juan Basin; Wasatch Formation
Other ID:, etd-03302007-081623
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:33
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:37


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