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Updated: April 15, 2018
courtesy U360 Univ. of Guelph
Methane leakage from imperfectly sealed well bores on unconventional shale gas wells has been a concern regarding environmental impacts to the groundwater resources. Studies on methane release in the atmosphere appear more often than controlled studies of subsurface methane release and its effects on groundwater. Little study has been done on fugitive gas migration, subsurface source identification and oxidation potential in groundwater. One such study was performed by Canadian University professors at the Borden Research Aquifer, where varying amounts of methane were injected into a shallow freshwater aquifer at different depths over a period of 72 days, trying to find answers to questions such as: How mobile and what controls fugitive methane in groundwater? Does methane persist or degrade in groundwater after leakage is stopped? How best can fugitive methane be detected in groundwater, and how accurate are tracer techniques currently used? Movement and measurements of methane were taken over a period of close to a year.
The study looked at methane injection phases and rates, depths, sediment composition, and monitoring and sampling analysis. Initial conclusions from this controlled natural gas release research indicate:
Two papers on the research can be found, “High resolution spatial and temporal evolution of dissolved gases in groundwater during a controlled natural gas release experiment’ and “Mobility and persistence of methane in groundwater in a controlled-release field experiment”