The origin of the combustible gases in groundwater from glacial-outwash and fractured-bedrock aquifers was investigated in northern Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Thermogenic methane (CH4) and ethane (C2H6) and microbial CH4 were found. Microbial CH4 is from natural in situ processes in the shale bedrock and occurs chiefly in the bedrock aquifer. The δ13C values of CH4 and C2H6 for the majority of thermogenic gases from water wells either matched or were between values for the samples of non-native storage-field gas from injection wells and the samples of gas from storage-field observation wells. Traces of C2H6 with microbial CH4 and a range of C and H isotopic compositions of CH4 indicate gases of different origins are mixing in sub-surface pathways; gas mixtures are present in groundwater. Pathways for gas migration and a specific source of the gases were not identified. Processes responsible for the presence of microbial gases in groundwater could be elucidated with further geochemical study.
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Carbon and hydrogen isotopic evidence for the origin of combustible gases in water-supply wells in north-central Pennsylvania