Barnett and Strawn shales and nearby aquifers, Gulf Coast Basin, Texas

Identifying sources of methane in groundwater and assessing whether these occurrences are natural or have an anthropogenic origin has become a particularly pressing issue in the last few years in the USA following the boom in shale gas exploitation through hydraulic fracturing. The latter carries risks of groundwater contamination either by methane or by chemicals involved in the hydraulic fracturing process. Our study area is located in the Barnett Shale, in north-central Texas, where large-scale hydraulic fracturing was first developed. High methane content is found in some aquifers overlying the Barnett Shale and Strawn Group.

While noble gases have been extensively used for decades to derive information on groundwater flow systems, their potential as tracers of fluid migration and at identifying the original sources of oil and gas reservoirs has received less attention. This study is meant to explore the potential of noble gases at fingerprinting specific sources of the methane gas present in groundwater and to help evaluating whether the shallow gas accumulation has a natural or anthropogenic origin.

This project is being carried out in collaboration with our colleague Jean-Philippe Nicot and his research group at the Bureau of Economic Geology, at the University of Texas at Austin. It is being funded by an RPSEA/DOE grant.

Publications:

            Nicot J.P., Mickler P., Larson T., Castro M.C., Darvari R., Uhlman K., Costley R. (2017) Methane                     occurrences in aquifers overlying the Barnett Shale with a focus on Parker County, Texas                                   doi: 10.1111/gwat.12508, Groundwater

Wen T., Castro M.C., J.P. Nicot, C. M. Hall, D.  L. Pinti, Mickler P.,  Darvari, R., Larsen T, Characterizing the Noble Gas Isotopic Composition of the Barnett Shale and Strawn Group of North-Central Texas, in review, Env. Sci. and Tech.

Wen T., Castro M.C., J.P. Nicot,, Mickler P. and C. M. Hall (2016) Methane Sources and Migration Mechanisms in Shallow Groundwaters in Parker and Hood Counties, Texas – A Heavy Noble Gas analysis, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b01494, Environ. Sci. Techno.

            Nicot, J.-P., P. Mickler, T. Larson, M. C. Castro, Z. Hildenbrand, R. Darvari, K. Uhlman, R. Smyth, L.                Bouvier, B. Scanlon (2015), Controls on methane occurrences in aquifers in the footprint of Texas shale                 plays: American Chemical Society 249th National Meeting & Exposition, presented at Chemistry of                     Natural Resources, Denver, CO, March 23, 2015.


 


Field trip to south-central Texas, November 2014. Above Jean-Philippe Nicot, Toti Larson,
Pat Mickler, Laura Bouvier, Roxana Darvari and Kristine Uhlman.
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M. Clara Castro,
Mar 4, 2017, 7:28 AM
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M. Clara Castro,
Mar 4, 2017, 7:27 AM
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M. Clara Castro,
Mar 4, 2017, 7:28 AM