Noble Gas Signatures in Antrim Shale Gas in the Michigan Basin - Assessing Compositional Variability and Transport Processes

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Tao Wen1, M. Clara Castro1, Brian R Ellis2, Chris M Hall1, Kyger C Lohmann1 and Laura Bouvier1, (1)University of Michigan, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Ann Arbor, MI, United States, (2)University of Michigan, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ann Arbor, MI, United States
Recent studies in the Michigan Basin looked at the atmospheric and terrigenic noble gas signatures of deep brines to place constraints on the past thermal history of the basin and to assess the extent of vertical transport processes within this sedimentary system. In this contribution, we present noble gas data of shale gas samples from the Antrim shale formation in the Michigan Basin. The Antrim shale was one of the first economic shale-gas plays in the U.S. and has been actively developed since the 1980’s. This study pioneers the use of noble gases in subsurface shale gas in the Michigan Basin to clarify the nature of vertical transport processes within the sedimentary sequence and to assess potential variability of noble gas signatures in shales.

Antrim Shale gas samples were analyzed for all stable noble gases (He, Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe) from samples collected at depths between 300 and 500m. Preliminary results show R/Ra values (where R and Ra are the measured and atmospheric 3He/4He ratios, respectively) varying from 0.022 to 0.21. Although most samples fall within typical crustal R/Ra range values (~0.02-0.05), a few samples point to the presence of a mantle He component with higher R/Ra ratios. Samples with higher R/Ra values also display higher 20Ne/22Ne ratios, up to 10.4, and further point to the presence of mantle 20Ne. The presence of crustally produced nucleogenic 21Ne and radiogenic 40Ar is also apparent with 21Ne/22Ne ratios up to 0.033 and 40Ar/36Ar ratios up to 312.

The presence of crustally produced 4He, 21Ne and 40Ar is not spatially homogeneous within the Antrim shale. Areas of higher crustal 4He production appear distinct to those of crustally produced 21Ne and 40Ar and are possibly related the presence of different production levels within the shale with varying concentrations of parent elements.