Identifying well contamination through the use of 3-D fluorescence spectroscopy to classify coalbed methane produced water

Katharine G. Dahm, Colette M. Van Straaten, Junko Munakata-Marr, Jörg E. Drewes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Production of unconventional gas resources commonly requires the use of hydraulic fracturing and chemical production well additives. Concern exists for the use of chemical compounds in gas wells due to the risk of groundwater contamination. This study focuses on a proposed method of identifying groundwater contamination from gas production. The method focuses on the classification of naturally occurring organic signatures of coalbed methane (CBM) produced water compared to anthropogenic organic compounds. The 3-D fluorescence excitation-emission matrix (EEM) spectra of coalbed methane produced water samples revealed four peaks characteristic of coalbed methane produced water: Peak P (aromatic proteins region), Peak M1 (microbial byproducts region), Peak M2 (microbial byproducts region), and Peak H (humic acid-like region). Peak H is characteristic of the coal-water equilibria present in all basins, while peaks P and M2 correlate with microbial activity in basins with biogenic methane generation pathways. Anthropogenic well additives produce EEM signatures with notable flooding of peaks P, M1, M2, and H, relatively higher overall fluorescence intensity, and slightly higher DOC concentrations. Fluorescence spectroscopy has the potential to be used in conjunction with groundwater contamination studies to determine if detected organic compounds originate from naturally occurring sources or well production additives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-656
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

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