Speciation and Distribution of Trace Metals Associated with Iron Sulfides in the Marcellus Shale

Monday, 15 December 2014
David M Singer and Michael Cahill, Kent State University Kent Campus, Kent, OH, United States
Black shales underlying the areas from Eastern Ohio, through Pennsylvania, and into Central New York State have become of economic interest lately due to the recent economic viability of shale gas extraction. Sulfide minerals such as pyrite and marcasite occurring in these shales are often the primary phases that trace metals are associated with. Trace metals can be incorporated into these sulfides via various pathways during initial shale deposition and secondary diagenesis including substitution for Fe (Co and Ni), substitution for S (As and Se), and excluded to form other sulfide phases (Cu and Zn). The manner in which these trace metals are incorporated directly influences how they are released into the environment during sulfide oxidation following shale weathering or hydraulic fracturing. The aim of this research is to examine the distribution of trace metals in iron sulfides from black shales using Synchrotron-based X-ray microprobe techniques including micro-X-ray fluorescence and micro-X-ray diffraction of shale thin sections. Marcellus Shale samples were collected from: (1) outcrops from the Oatka member in Leroy, NY and Jersey Shore, PA and the Union Springs member in Lewiston, PA, and (2) drilling core sample from Beaver Meadow, NY and Hancock Co, TN (Chattanooga shale). Analyses have shown that the sulfide grains are a combination of pyrite and marcasite. As and Se are spatially correlated with each other and within the pyrite grains. Ni is spatially correlated with larger euhedral pyrite, as well as smaller non-iron sulfide grains. Cu and Zn are not spatially correlated with the pyrite and form separate Cu- and Zn- sulfides. During iron sulfide oxidative dissolution, these differences in distribution of trace metals will affect the order and rate in which they are released into the environment.