Water–rock interaction and the concentrations of major, trace, and rare earth elements in hydrocarbon-associated produced waters of the United States
Studies of co-produced waters from hydrocarbon extraction across multiple energy-producing basins have generally focused on major ions or a few select tracers, and studies that examine trace elements and involve laboratory experiments have generally been basin specific. Here, new perspective is sought through a broad analysis of concentration data for 26 elements from three hydrocarbon well types using the U.S. Geological Survey National Produced Waters Geochemical Database (v2.3). Those data are compared to leachates (water, hydrochloric acid, and artificial brine) from 12 energy-resource related shales from across the United States. Both lower pH and higher ionic strength were associated with greater concentrations of many trace elements in produced waters. However, individual effects were difficult to distinguish because higher ionic strengths drive decreases in pH. Water–rock interactions in the leaching experiments generally replicated produced water concentrations for trace elements including Al, As, Cd, Co, Cu, Mo, Ni, Pb, Sb, Si, and Zn. Enhanced middle rare earth element (REE) mobilization relative to shale REE content occurred with low pH leachates. Produced water concentrations of Li, Sr, and Ba were not replicated by the leaching experiments. Patterns of high Li, Sr, and Ba concentrations and ratios relative to other elements across produced waters types indicate controls on these elements in many settings related to pore space pools of salts, brines, and ion-exchange sites affected by diagenetic processes. The size of those pools is diluted and masked by other water–rock interaction processes at the water–rock ratios necessitated by laboratory experiments. The results broadly link water–rock interaction processes and environmental patterns across a wide variety of produced waters and host formations and thus provide context for trace element data from other environmental and laboratory studies of such waters.
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Water–rock interaction and the concentrations of major, trace, and rare earth elements in hydrocarbon-associated produced waters of the United States|
|Series title||Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts|
|Publisher||Royal Society of Chemistry|
|Contributing office(s)||Colorado Water Science Center, Eastern Energy Resources Science Center|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|