Another poster from AGU 2015 that we didn’t think should be missed!
Moyo Ajayi (M.S. candidate) presented some findings from his research being done out of Vanderbilt University under the supervision of Dr. John Ayers.
Natural gas is becoming a favoured means of energy production due to its relatively low carbon dioxide emissions. Consequently, High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) is expanding in the United States and currently accounts for ~40% of natural gas production. While this sounds great, natural gas used as an energy source tends to emit high amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Aiming to investigate whether methane fluxed from the soil is higher at well sites than undisturbed sites, an eosAC closed chamber and an isotopic Picarro analyzer were used to assess whether gases being emitted originated from biological processes or thermogenic.
Their findings indicated that higher concentrations of methane were present at well sites than in control sites. Isotopic signatures indicated the majority of methane being detected as originating from biogenic sources, with a small amount originating from thermogenic sources. However, due to low methane fluxes the isotopic analysis is less precise. In order to be able to discern between biogenic and thermogenic methane fluxes, it was suggested that future measurements should be taken in excavated pits to reduce error from methanogenic and methanotrophic processes occurring in shallow soils.
These findings suggest that a presence of high thermogenic gas emissions would likely be due to the presence of HVHF activity in the area. While this cannot be said with 100% certainty, subsurface data in future research should help to clarify this missing link.
To see the poster, click here.