This project is ongoing as of Fall 2018. It is the M.S. project for Cris Alvarez, in collaboration with Dr. Alan Fryar (UK), Dr. Junfeng Zhu (Kentucky Geologic Survey), and Dr. Marty Parris (Kentucky Geologic Survey).

Abstract

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The occurrence of methane in eastern Kentucky groundwater is a serious health and safety concern as the accumulation of methane gas in enclosed areas can result in potentially explosive conditions.  A recent study in northeastern Kentucky by Zhu et al. (2017) found intermittently high methane concentrations, with six wells having concentrations within the “immediate action” concentration range.  These samples were predominantly located adjacent to oil and gas wells within the Berea Play.  However, in southeastern Kentucky LeDoux et al. (2016) did not observe the same high concentrations or proximity relationships between methane and well development. Within the ~60 kilometers separating these sampling regions, there is no information on how far south the high methane region extends or what controls the concentration differences.  To address this data gap, this study will sample and analyze ~30 groundwater wells located within Magoffin, Floyd, and Knott counties, spanning the region between two existing groundwater methane studies.  These sites will be selected in collaboration with Agricultural extension officers, ensuring full coverage of potentially impacted regions while providing an avenue to share results with stakeholders.  

Figure 1A.  Location of relevant unconventional reservoir plays in eastern Kentucky. Counties that include the Berea Play are colored yellow, while the Rogersville Play is denoted by a hashed overlay.  B.  Locations of existing and proposed groundwater methane sampling overlying the regions of the Berea and Rogersville plays. Methane concentrations in the northern samples are from Zhu et al., 2017, while southern samples are from LeDoux et al., 2016. Proposed sample locations in Magoffin, Floyd, and Knott counties are shown as black dots.