Geohydrology and water quality of the principal freshwater aquifers near oilfield and gasfield brine-injection wells in northern Portage County, Ohio, were evaluated. Since 1975, 13 wells in this part of the Country have been used to dispose of more than 4.5 million barrels of brine by injection into Silurian carbonate and sandstone rocks that generally are greater than 3,500 feet below land surface. More than 3,000 feet of interbedded shales, sandstones, carbonates, and evaporites separate the freshwater aquifers from these brine-injection zones. The shallowest brine-injection zone is greater than 2,200 feet below sea level. Native fluids in the injection zones have dissolved-solids concentrations greater than 125,000 milligrams per liter and are hydraulically isolated from the freshwater aquifers. No known faults or fracture systems are present in northern Portage County, although abandoned oil and gas wells could exist and serve as conduits for migration of injected brine.
Pennsylvanian clastic units are freshwater bearing in northern Portage County, and two bedrock aquifers generally are recognized. The shallower bedrock aquifer (Connoquenessing Sandstone Member of the Pottsville Formation) principally consists of sandstone; this aquifer is separated from a deeper sandstone and conglomerate aquifer in the lower part of the Sharon Member (Pottsville Formation) by shale in the upper part of the Sharon Member that acts as a confining unit. The upper sandstone aquifer is the surficial aquifer where overlying glacial deposits are unsaturated in the uplands; glacial deposits comprise the surficial aquifer in buried valleys where the sandstone is absent. These two surficial aquifers are hydraulically connected and act as a single unit. The lower sandstone and conglomerate aquifer is the most areally extensive aquifer within the project area.
From November 1987 through August 1988, ground-water levels remained at least 60 feet higher in the upper sandstone aquifer than in the lower sandstone and conglomerate aquifer at a topographically high recharge area. Water levels in the surficial aquifers and the lower sandstone and conglomerate aquifer were nearly the same along the Cuyahoga River.
Ground water in the upper sandstone aquifer flows radially from topographically high recharge areas into the glacial deposits in the buried valleys. Much of the ground water in these surficial aquifers discharges into the Cuyahoga River. Most ground water in the lower sandstone and conglomerate aquifer flows toward discharge areas near the Cuyahoga River and Eagle Creek. In June 1988, the Cuyahoga River gained 15.8 cubic feet per second of water from the aquifers between the northern edge of Portage County and State Route 303. Ground water may have discharged into the upstream end of Lake Rockwell but did not discharge into the downstream end of the Lake during most of the period from October 1987 through September 1988.
Measurements of the specific conductance of ground water sampled from areas near the 13 brine-injection wells and along the Cuyahoga River indicate no widespread ground-water contamination related to brine injection. Chemical analysis of water from 25 wells indicates that most ground waters are a calcium bicarbonate type. Water analyses show that four wells sampled contain water with chloride concentrations greater than 250 milligrams per liter. Sodium concentrations in water from these four wells ranged from 67 to 190 milligrams per liter. A mixing diagram constructed from bromide and chloride data was used to distinguish between the sources of elevated chloride concentrations in these four wells. Waters from two of the wells have been mixed with oilfield and gasfield brine, and waters from the other two wells have been mixed with a salt-solution brine such as that derived from diluted highway-deicing salts.