Hydrogeology of the Owego-Apalachin Elementary School Geothermal Fields, Tioga County, New York

Scientific Investigations Report 2015-5155
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Abstract

The hydrogeology of the Owego-Apalachin Elementary School geothermal fields, which penetrate saline water and methane in fractured upper Devonian age bedrock in the Owego Creek valley, south-central New York, was characterized through the analysis of drilling and geophysical logs, water-level monitoring data, and specific-depth water samples. Hydrogeologic insights gained during the study proved beneficial for the design of the geothermal drilling program and protection of the overlying aquifer during construction, and may be useful for the development of future geothermal fields and other energy-related activities, such as drilling for oil and natural gas in similar fractured-bedrock settings.

The southwest geothermal field consists of 204 closed-loop wells that penetrate a major saline water-bearing zone associated with bedding-plane fractures near the middle of an interbedded sandstone and shale interval at depths of 238 to 263 feet below land surface (ft bls). The northeast geothermal field consists of 80 closed-loop wells that penetrate a major saline water-bearing zone associated with bedding-plane fractures near the base of the interbedded sandstone and shale interval at depths of 303 to 323 ft bls.

Transmissivity estimates for the major saline water-bearing fractured zones range from 735 to 3,400 feet squared per day. The saline water-bearing zone in the southwest field is hydraulically connected over a horizontal distance of at least 350 feet. The hydraulic connection between subhorizontal, stacked bedding-plane fractures is limited by the number and transmissivity of interspersed higher angle fractures; locally, greater stratigraphic separation results in reduced connectivity to a greater degree than does horizontal distance.

The specific conductance of the saline water from the shallower fractured zone in the southwest field was about 16,000 microsiemens per centimeter at 25 degrees Celsius (μS/cm at 25°C), and that from the fractured zone in the northeast field was about 65,000 μS/cm at 25°C. The saline waters were characterized by a chemical composition similar to that of deep formation brines collected from oil and gas wells in the Appalachian Basin. About 40 percent of the geothermal wells discharged methane gas to land surface during and (or) following drilling. Sandstone beds at depths of 348 to 378 ft bls are the likely source of the methane gas, which was determined to be early thermogenic in origin.

Suggested Citation

Williams, J.H., and Kappel, W.M., 2015, Hydrogeology of the Owego-Apalachin Elementary School geothermal fields, Tioga County, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5155, 29 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20155155.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Geothermal Field Construction and Data Collection
  • Hydrogeology of the Geothermal Fields
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Video of Local News Report about Methane Fire During Drilling of Borehole A9 at the Owego-Apalachin Elementary School Geothermal Fields, Tioga County, New York
  • Appendix 2. Location, Construction, and Hydrogeologic Information for Selected Boreholes and Wells at and near the Owego-Apalachin Elementary School Geothermal Fields, Tioga County, New York
  • Appendix 3. Field and Laboratory Chemical Analyses of Water and Gas Samples from Boreholes A9 and Q1 at the Owego-Apalachin Elementary School Geothermal Fields, Tioga County, New York
  • Appendix 4. Video of the Unloading of Methane Gas and Water from Borehole A12 at the Owego-Apalachin Elementary School Geothermal Fields, Tioga County, New York

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Hydrogeology of the Owego-Apalachin Elementary School Geothermal Fields, Tioga County, New York
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2015-5155
DOI 10.3133/sir20155155
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) New York Water Science Center
Description Report: vii, 29 p.; 4 Appendixes
Country United States
State New York
County Tioga County
City Owego
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N