Parts of the northern Great Plains in eastern Montana and western North Dakota and southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan, Canada, were studied as part of an assessment of shallow biogenic gas in Upper Cretaceous rocks.Parts of the northern Great Plains in eastern Montana and western North Dakota and southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan, Canada, were studied as part of an assessment of shallow biogenic gas in Upper Cretaceous rocks. Large quantities of shallow biogenic gas are produced from low-permeability, Upper Cretaceous reservoirs in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan, Canada. Rocks of similar types and age produce sparingly in the United States except on large structures, such as Bowdoin dome and Cedar Creek anticline. Significant production also occurs in the Tiger Ridge area, where uplift of the Bearpaw Mountains created stratigraphic traps. The resource in Canada is thought to be a continuous, biogenic-gas-type accumulation with economic production in a variety of subtle structures and stratigraphic settings. The United States northern Great Plains area has similar conditions but only broad structural closures or stratigraphic traps associated with local structure have produced economically to date. Numerical flow modeling was used to help determine that biogenic gas in low-permeability reservoirs is held in place by high hydraulic head that overrides buoyancy forces of the gas. Modeling also showed where hydraulic head is greater under Tertiary capped topographic remnants rather than near adjacent topographic lows. The high head can override the capillary pressure of the rock and force gas to migrate to low head in topographically low areas. Most current biogenic gas production is confined to areas between mapped lineaments in the northern Great Plains. The lineaments may reflect structural zones in the Upper Cretaceous that help compartmentalize reservoirs and confine gas accumulations.
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USGS Numbered Series
Effects of groundwater flow on the distribution of biogenic gas in parts of the northern Great Plains of Canada and United States