Ra was measured in deep saline formation waters produced from a variety of US Gulf Coast subsurface environments, including oil and gas reservoirs, and water-producing geopressured aquifers. A strong positive correlation was 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 on and within the solid matrix. The processes believed to be primarily responsible for transfering 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: 1) ion exchange; 2) increased solubility of matrix silica surrounding Ra atoms, coupled with a salinity-controlled rate of re-equilibration of silica between solution and quartz grains; and 3) the equilibration of Ra in solution with detrital baryte 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.-P.Br.
Additional publication details
The occurrence and behavior of radium in saline formation water of the U.S. Gulf Coast region.