Real-Time Monitoring System for Evaluating Long-Term Variability in Methane in Domestic Water Wells in Northeast Pennsylvania
Whisman, Charles; McElreath, Debby; Smith, Bert; Olmsted, Charles; Wardrop, Richard; Good, Denise
Naturally-occurring methane is present in many domestic water wells in northeast Pennsylvania. A significant amount of data is currently being collected by the oil and gas industry as a result of sampling efforts and investigations, much of which is from pre-drilling ("baseline") sampling conducted prior to any drilling activity. However, gaps remain in understanding and quantifying the natural temporal variation in methane concentrations in these wells. This is of significant importance in assessing claims of gas migration when there is nearby anthropogenic activity. This presentation will discuss a research project developed and implemented to gain an understanding of the long-term variability of methane in domestic water wells.
Real-time remote monitoring and data trend analyses are being utilized to understand natural dissolved methane fluctuations in groundwater and correlations between methane headspace concentration in the well annulus and other physical and chemical parameters which could correlate to changes in headspace concentration. Significant efforts were made to select, evaluate, and prepare the wells for the study including borehole geophysics, well equipment upgrades, and installation of water-treatment systems. Descriptions of the customized real-time remote monitoring equipment, array of well headspace and water-quality sensors utilized, and equipment setup will be presented, as well as the associated challenges and logistics. Barometric pressure, water use, water quality, well recharge, water-level fluctuations, and pump cycling are examples of the variables monitored.
Interim results from the on-going study will be presented, including discussion of well construction, geologic settings, water quality, initial trends and findings, and real-time display of data. The usefulness of the data and the accuracy/precision of sensors will be discussed. The long-term study will provide further information to better understand the occurrence and potential causes of methane fluctuations in groundwater and associated water well quality issues in northeast Pennsylvania.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90163©2013AAPG 2013 Annual Convention and Exhibition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 19-22, 2013