Advertisement

Can groundwater sampling techniques used in monitoring wells influence methane concentrations and isotopes?

  • Christine Rivard
  • Geneviève Bordeleau
  • Denis Lavoie
  • René Lefebvre
  • Xavier Malet
Article
  • 140 Downloads

Abstract

Methane concentrations and isotopic composition in groundwater are the focus of a growing number of studies. However, concerns are often expressed regarding the integrity of samples, as methane is very volatile and may partially exsolve during sample lifting in the well and transfer to sampling containers. While issues concerning bottle-filling techniques have already been documented, this paper documents a comparison of methane concentration and isotopic composition obtained with three devices commonly used to retrieve water samples from dedicated observation wells. This work lies within the framework of a larger project carried out in the Saint-Édouard area (southern Québec, Canada), whose objective was to assess the risk to shallow groundwater quality related to potential shale gas exploitation. The selected sampling devices, which were tested on ten wells during three sampling campaigns, consist of an impeller pump, a bladder pump, and disposable sampling bags (HydraSleeve). The sampling bags were used both before and after pumping, to verify the appropriateness of a no-purge approach, compared to the low-flow approach involving pumping until stabilization of field physicochemical parameters. Results show that methane concentrations obtained with the selected sampling techniques are usually similar and that there is no systematic bias related to a specific technique. Nonetheless, concentrations can sometimes vary quite significantly (up to 3.5 times) for a given well and sampling event. Methane isotopic composition obtained with all sampling techniques is very similar, except in some cases where sampling bags were used before pumping (no-purge approach), in wells where multiple groundwater sources enter the borehole.

Keywords

Groundwater Sampling techniques Dissolved methane Shale gas Monitoring 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Dr. Mathieu Duchesne of the GSC and Pr. Erwan Gloaguen of INRS for their advices and contribution related to the representation of data with Matlab. Our gratitude goes out to Mrs. Marianne Molgat, formerly of Talisman Energy, without whom this project would likely not have taken place. We would also like to deeply thank the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les Changements climatiques (MDDELCC), land and well owners that allowed work to be performed on their property, the Municipality of Saint-Édouard, the MRC de Lotbinière and the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec. The authors also want to sincerely thank Nicolas Benoit and the anonymous reviewer for their review. This paper is GSC contribution # 20170288.

Funding information

The authors would like to acknowledge the funding support from the Energy Sector (Eco-EII and PERD programs) and the Earth Science Sector (Environmental Geoscience Program) of Natural Resources Canada.

References

  1. Alperin, M. M., Reeburgh, W. S. and Whiticar, M. J. (1988). Carbon and hydrogen isotope fractionation resulting from anaerobic methane oxidation. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 2: 279-291.Google Scholar
  2. Baldassare, F. J., McCaffrey, M. A., & Harper, J. A. (2014). A geochemical context for stray gas investigations in the northern Appalachian Basin: implications of analyses of natural gases from Neogene-through Devonian-age strata. AAPG Bulletin, 98(2), 341–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barker, J. F., & Dickhout, R. (1988). An evaluation of some systems for sampling gas-charged groundwater for volatile analysis. Ground Water Monitoring Review, 8, 112–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bordeleau, G., Rivard, C., Lavoie, D., Lefebvre, R., Malet, X., & Ladevèze, P. (2018). Geochemistry of groundwater in the Saint-Édouard area, Quebec, Canada, and its influence on the distribution of methane in shallow aquifers. Applied Geochemistry. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0883292717303621.
  5. Coleman, N. P., McElreath, D. (2012) Short-term intra-well variability in methane concentrations from domestic well waters in northeastern Pennsylvania, AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90154©2012, AAPG Eastern Section Meeting: Stray Gas Incidence & Response Forum, Cleveland, Ohio, 24–26 July 2012, http://www.gwpc.org/sites/default/files/event-sessions/Coleman_Nancy.pdf.
  6. Currell, M., Banfield, D., Cartwright, I., & Cendón, D. I. (2017). Geochemical indicators of the origins and evolution of methane in groundwater: Gippsland Basin, Australia. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 24, 1–16.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-016-7290-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Devlin, J. F. (1987). Recommendations concerning materials and pumping systems used in the sampling of groundwater contaminated with volatile organics. Water Pollution Research Journal of Canada, 22(1), 65–72.Google Scholar
  8. Dusseault, M., & Jackson, R. (2014). Seepage pathway assessment for natural gas to shallow groundwater during well stimulation, in production, and after abandonment. Environmental Geosciences, 21(3), 107–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. EPA. (2013) Introduction to in situ bioremediation of groundwater, Office of Solid Wastes and Emergency response, EPA 542-R-13-018, 86 pages. https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe.Google Scholar
  10. Gorody, A. W., Baldwin, D., Scott, C. (2005) Dissolved methane in groundwater, San Juan Basin, La Plata County Colorado: analysis of data submitted in response to COGCC orders 112–156 & 112–157, November 2005 I.E. Conference, Houston, TX, 14 pages. http://ipec.utulsa.edu/Conf2005/Papers/Gorody_DISSOLVED_METHANE_IN_GROUNDWATER.pdf
  11. Gorody, A. W. (2012). Factors affecting the variability of stray gas concentration and composition in groundwater. Environmental Geosciences, 19(1), 17–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hirsche, T., Mayer, B. (2009) A comprehensive literature review on the applicability of free and dissolved gas sampling for baseline water well testing. Report prepared for Alberta Environment, 47 pages, http://www.waterforlife.alberta.ca/documents/ApplicabilityFreeDissolvedGas-Mar2009.pdf
  13. Humez, P., Mayer, B., Inga, J., Nightingale, M., Becker, V., Kingston, A., Akbilgic, O., & Taylor, S. (2016). Occurrence and origin of methane in groundwater in Alberta (Canada): gas geochemical and isotopic approaches. Science of the Total Environment, 541, 1253–1268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Humez, P., Mayer, B., Nightingale, M., Ing, J., Becker, V., & Jones, D. (2015). An 8-year record of gas geochemistry and isotopic composition of methane during baseline sampling at a groundwater observation well in Alberta (Canada). Hydrogeology Journal, 24, 109–122.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10040-015-1319-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council (ITRC). (2007) Protocol for use of five passive samplers to sample for a variety of contaminants in groundwater, technical and regulatory guidance, 121 pages. http://www.itrcweb.org/GuidanceDocuments/DSP-5.pdf
  16. Jackson, R. E., & Heagle, D. J. (2016). Sampling domestic/farm wells for baseline groundwater quality and fugitive gas. Hydrogeology Journal, 24, 269–272.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10040-016-1369-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kampbell, D. H., & Vandegrift, S. A. (1998). Analysis of dissolved methane, ethane, and ethylene in ground water by a standard gas chromatographic technique. Journal of Chromatographic Science, 36, 253–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kinnaman, F. S., Valentine, D. L. and Tyler, S. C. (2007). Carbon and hydrogen isotope fractionation associated with aerobic microbial oxidations of methane, ethane, propane and butane. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 71: 271-283Google Scholar
  19. Ladevèze, P. (2017) Aquifères superficiels et ressources profondes : le rôle des failles et des réseaux de fractures, Ph.D. thesis, INRS-ETE, 220 pages.Google Scholar
  20. Ladevèze, P., Rivard, C., Lefebvre, R., Lavoie, D., Parent, M., Malet, X., Bordeleau, G., & Gosselin, J. S. (2016). Travaux de caractérisation hydrogéologique dans la plateforme sédimentaire du Saint-Laurent, région de Saint-Édouard-de-Lotbinière. Québec, Dossier public, 8036, 2016, 112 pages.  https://doi.org/10.4095/297891 Google Scholar
  21. Lavoie, D., Rivard, C., Lefebvre, R., Séjourné, S., Thériault, R., Duchesne, M. J., Ahad, J. M. E., Wang, B., Benoit, N., & Lamontagne, C. (2014). The Utica shale and gas play in southern Quebec: geological and hydrogeological syntheses and methodological approaches to groundwater risk evaluation. International Journal of Coal Geology, 126, 77–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lavoie, D., Pinet, N., Bordeleau, G., Ardakani, O.H., Ladevèze, P., Duchesne, M.J., Rivard, C., Mort, A., Brake, V. Sanei, H., Malet, X. (2016) The Upper Ordovician black shales of southern Quebec (Canada) and their significance for naturally occurring hydrocarbons in shallow groundwater. International Journal of Coal Geology, 158, 44–64.Google Scholar
  23. Lefebvre, R. (2017). Mechanisms leading to potential impacts of shale gas development on groundwater quality. WIREs Water, 4(1), 15 pages.  https://doi.org/10.1002/wat2.1188
  24. Martini, A. M., Walter, L. M., Budai, J. M., Ku, T. C. W., Kaiser, C. J., & Schoell, M. (1998). Genetic and temporal relations between formation waters and biogenic methane: Upper Devonian Antrim Shale, Michigan Basin, USA. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 62(10), 1699–1720.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. McHugh, T. E., Kulkarni, P. R., Beckley, L. M., Newell, C. J., & Zumbro, M. (2015). Negative bias and increased variability in VOC concentrations using the HydraSleeve in monitoring wells. Ground Water Monitoring & Remediation.  https://doi.org/10.1111/gwmr.12141
  26. Molofsky, L. J., Richardson, S. D., Gorody, A. W., Baldassare, F., Black, J. A., McHugh, T. E., & Connor, J. A. (2016). Effect of different sampling methodologies on measured methane concentrations in groundwater samples. Ground Water, 24, 1–12.  https://doi.org/10.1111/gwat.12415 Google Scholar
  27. Moritz, A., Helie, J. F., Pinti, D. L., Larocque, M., Barnetche, D., Retailleau, S., Lefebvre, R., & Gelinas, Y. (2015). Methane baseline concentrations and sources in shallow aquifers from the shale gas-prone region of the St. Lawrence Lowlands (Quebec, Canada). Environmental Science & Technology, 49, 4765−4771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Muska, C.F., Colven, W.P., Jones, V.D., Scogin, J.T., Looney, B.B., Price, V. Jr. (1986) Field evaluation of ground water sampling devices for volatile organic compounds, In: Proceedings of the sixth national symposium and exposition on aquifer restoration and ground water monitoring, Columbus, Ohio, May 19–22.Google Scholar
  29. Nastev, M., Therrien, R., Lefebvre, R., & Gélinas, P. J. (2001). Gas production and migration in landfills and geological materials. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 52(1–4), 187–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. PA-DEP. (2012) Light hydrocarbons in aqueous samples via headspace and gas chromatography with flame ionization detection (GC/FID). PA Dept. of Environmental Protection, PA-DEP 3686, Rev. 1, 13 pages.Google Scholar
  31. Parker, L. V. (1994). The effects of groundwater sampling devices on water quality: a literature review. Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation, 14(2), 130–141.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-6592.1994.tb00108.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Parker, L. V., & Clark, C. H. (2004). Study of five discrete-interval-type ground water sampling devices. Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation, 24(3), 111–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Puls, R.W., Barcelona, M.J. (1996) Low-flow (minimal drawdown) groundwater sampling procedures. EPA ground water issue, EPA/540/S-95/50, pp 12.Google Scholar
  34. Rivard, C., Bordeleau, G., Lavoie, D., Lefebvre, R., & Malet, X. (2017). Methane variations in groundwater over time. Hydrogeology Journal, online http://rdcu.be/yjMl
  35. Siegel, D. I., Azzolina, N. A., Smith, B. J., Perry, A. E., & Bothun, R. L. (2015). Methane concentrations in water wells unrelated to proximity to existing oil and gas wells in northeastern Pennsylvania. Environmental Science & Technology, 49(7), 4106–4112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Siegel, D., Smith, B., Perry, E., Bothun, R., Hollingsworth M. (2016). Dissolved methane in shallow groundwater of the Appalachian Basin: Results from the Chesapeake Energy predrilling geochemical database, Environmental Geosciences, 23(1): 1-47.Google Scholar
  37. Smith, B., Becker, M., & Siegel, D. (2016). Temporal variability of methane in domestic groundwater wells, northeastern Pennsylvania. Environmental Geosciences, 23(1), 49–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Whiticar, M. J. (1999). Carbon and hydrogen isotope systematics of bacterial formation and oxidation of methane. Chemical Geology, 161, 291–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Crown 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine Rivard
    • 1
  • Geneviève Bordeleau
    • 1
  • Denis Lavoie
    • 1
  • René Lefebvre
    • 2
  • Xavier Malet
    • 1
  1. 1.Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources CanadaQuebec CityCanada
  2. 2.Institut national de la recherche scientifique – Centre Eau Terre EnvironnementQuebec CityCanada

Personalised recommendations