Radium has been measured in deep saline formation waters produced from a variety of U.S. Gulf Coast subsurface environments, including oil reservoirs, gas reservoirs and water-producing geopressured aquifers. A strong positive correlation has been found between formation-water salinity and Ra activity, resulting from the interaction of formation water with aquifer matrix. Ra isotopes enter the fluid phase after being produced by the decay of parent elements U and Th, which are located at sites on and within the solid matrix. Processes that are belived to be primarily responsible for transferring Ra from matrix to formation water are chemical leaching and alpha-particle recoil. Factors controlling the observed salinity-Ra relationship may be one or a combination of the following factors: (a) ion exchange; (b) increased solubility of matrix silica surrounding Ra atoms, coupled with a salinity-controlled rate of reequilibration of silica between solution and quartz grains; and (c) the equilibration of Ra in solution with detrial barite within the aquifer. No difference was found in the brine-Ra relation in water produced from oil or gas wells and water produced from wells penetrating only water-bearing aquifers, although the relation was more highly correlated for water-bearing aquifers than hydrocarbon-containing reservoirs. ?? 1984.
Additional publication details
The occurrence and behavior of radium in saline formation water of the U.S. Gulf Coast region