Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 4:10 PM
CHARACTERIZING GROUND WATER IN THE METHANE-BEARING DEEP RIVER TRIASSIC BASIN IN CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina recently passed a law (SB 820) that authorizes horizontal drilling and could legalize hydraulic fracturing in the state by 2014. This ruling opens the Deep River Triassic Basin in central North Carolina to oil and gas development in the future. Unlike many shale formations where fracking is currently taking place, those in North Carolina do not have prior conventional gas development. Thus, the Deep River Basin in North Carolina provides a unique opportunity to characterize the shallow ground water above a shale formation that is likely gas-bearing in the absence of anthropogenic migration pathways. We present results of a field campaign in which we sampled more than 50 private wells used for drinking water. For each well, we measure dissolved methane, major cations and anions, metals, trace elements, and volatile organic compounds. We find dissolved methane concentrations between 0 and 0.368 milligrams per liter, with an average of 0.057 milligrams per liter. The resulting water quality database could provide useful comparison if water wells are resampled after gas drilling takes place in the future, if such drilling occurs. Moreover, these data provide immediate insights into water chemistry, rock interactions, age, and naturally occurring dissolved gas content in ground water above a shale formation.