Application of near-surface geophysics as part of a hydrologic study of a subsurface drip irrigation system along the Powder River floodplain near Arvada, Wyoming

International Journal of Coal Geology
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Abstract

Rapid development of coalbed natural gas (CBNG) production in the Powder River Basin (PRB) of Wyoming has occurred since 1997. National attention related to CBNG development has focused on produced water management, which is the single largest cost for on-shore domestic producers. Low-cost treatment technologies allow operators to reduce their disposal costs, provide treated water for beneficial use, and stimulate oil and gas production by small operators. Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) systems are one potential treatment option that allows for increased CBNG production by providing a beneficial use for the produced water in farmland irrigation.

Water management practices in the development of CBNG in Wyoming have been aided by integrated geophysical, geochemical, and hydrologic studies of both the disposal and utilization of water. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have utilized multi-frequency airborne, ground, and borehole electromagnetic (EM) and ground resistivity methods to characterize the near-surface hydrogeology in areas of produced water disposal. These surveys provide near-surface EM data that can be compared with results of previous surveys to monitor changes in soils and local hydrology over time as the produced water is discharged through SDI.

The focus of this investigation is the Headgate Draw SDI site, situated adjacent to the Powder River near the confluence of a major tributary, Crazy Woman Creek, in Johnson County, Wyoming. The SDI system was installed during the summer of 2008 and began operation in October of 2008. Ground, borehole, and helicopter electromagnetic (HEM) conductivity surveys were conducted at the site prior to the installation of the SDI system. After the installation of the subsurface drip irrigation system, ground EM surveys have been performed quarterly (weather permitting). The geophysical surveys map the heterogeneity of the near-surface geology and hydrology of the study area. The geophysical data are consistent between surveys using different techniques and between surveys carried out at different times from 2007 through 2011. This paper summarizes geophysical results from the 4-year monitoring study of the SDI system.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Application of near-surface geophysics as part of a hydrologic study of a subsurface drip irrigation system along the Powder River floodplain near Arvada, Wyoming
Series title International Journal of Coal Geology
DOI 10.1016/j.coal.2013.10.009
Volume 126
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 128
Last page 139
Country United States
State Wyoming
Other Geospatial Powder River floodplain