What Controls Methane in Potable Ground Water in the Appalachian Basin?

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 8:40 AM
Donald I Siegel1, Bert Smith2, A.E. Perry3 and R. Bothun3, (1)Syracuse University, Earth Sciences, Syracuse, NY, United States, (2)Chesapeake Energy, Oklahoma City, OK, United States, (3)AECOM, Chelmsford, MA, United States
We present the results of baseline (pre-drilling) sampling for methane in 13,040 potable ground water samples in Northeastern Pennsylvania and 8,004 samples from a “Western Area” (southwest Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and north-central West Virginia) that were collected on behalf of Chesapeake Energy Corporation as part of its monitoring program prior to drilling unconventional oil and gas wells in the Marcellus and Utica Formations, as well as the results of a year-long study on temporal variability of methane in ground water at 12 locations in NE Pennsylvania

We found dissolved methane common in potable ground water in the Appalachian Basin. In NE Pennsylvania, measureable dissolved methane occurred in 24% of our samples with 3.4% naturally exceeding the PADEP methane notification level of 7 mg/L. In the western area, dissolved methane occurred naturally in 36% of groundwater sampled and in Ohio, 4.1% of samples exceeded the Ohio dissolved methane action level of 10 mg/L. More methane is associated with hydrogeochemical facies trending towards Na-Cl and Na-HCO3 type waters in valleys and along hill flanks. We found no relationship occurs between the concentration of methane and proximity to pre-existing gas wells. Concentrations of methane in domestic wells can naturally vary by factors, depending on pumping regime and time of year.