2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October –3 November 2010)
Paper No. 57-3
Presentation Time: 2:15 PM-2:30 PM


KROEPSCH, Adrianne, University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, CO 80304, adrianne.kroepsch@colorado.edu, WILLIAMS, Mark, Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1560 30th St, Campus Box 450, Boulder, CO 80309, NYDICK, Koren, Mountain Studies Institute, P.O. Box 426, Silverton, CO 81433, GIANNINY, Gary L., Department of Geosciences, Fort Lewis College, 1000 Rim Drive, Durango, CO 81301, and VANSICKLE, Jordan, Fort Lewis College, Durango, 80310

There remains considerable uncertainty about how coal bed methane (CBM) production from Southwestern Colorado’s Fruitland Outcrop may affect the quantity and quality of nearby surface water, springs, wetlands, and groundwater systems along the northwestern margin of the San Juan Basin (SJB) near Durango, CO. Despite the fact that the SJB is one of the highest-producing and most extensively studied CBM basins in the world (Fasset 2000; Snyder and Fabryka-Martin 2007), controversy remains over the age of Fruitland Formation waters, the extent to which the basin undergoes active hydrologic throughflow, as well as whether CBM production near the Outcrop will impact existing surface-groundwater interactions. In order to more closely characterize the Fruitland Outcrop hydrology near the edge of the basin, geochemical and isotopic properties of surface water and groundwater sources were monitored from 2008-2009 in neighboring La Plata and Archuleta counties for use as baseline hydrologic information in an area soon to see increased CBM drilling. Water samples were collected from existing CBM wells, domestic wells, piezometers, springs, and the Florida and Piedra Rivers and tributaries. Oxygen-18 signatures for surface water and groundwater sources (domestic wells, piezometers, springs) suggested recharge by a mixture of rain and snow. Oxygen-18 concentrations did not vary significantly based on position to Outcrop (up-gradient vs. in-Outcrop vs. down-gradient) for surface water or groundwater. Tritium concentrations in all water bodies other than CBM wells approximated precipitation levels (mean=6.55 TU). Tritium concentration relative to Outcrop position was not significantly different for surface water, but was significantly different for groundwater sources when comparing in-Outcrop samples to down-gradient samples. In-Outcrop groundwater produced slightly “older” tritium signals than down-gradient groundwater. Results suggest tighter surface-groundwater connections at the edge of the basin and more circulation than expected, and may indicate a system that is already over-drafted by existing CBM production and heavy domestic well use. These results suggest that increased CBM production near the outcrop will likely affect the local hydrology.

2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October –3 November 2010)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 57
Mountain Hydrogeology, Faults, Fractures, Fluid Flow, and Sustainability of Natural Resources: In Memory of the Contributions of Craig Burton Forster
Colorado Convention Center: Room 612
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Sunday, 31 October 2010

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 42, No. 5, p. 147

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