Evidence of sulfate-dependent anaerobic methane oxidation within an area impacted by coalbed methane-related gas migration.
Wolfe AL, Wilkin RT.
Environ Sci Technol. 2016 Dec 28. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b03709. [Epub ahead of print]
We evaluated water quality characteristics in the northern Raton Basin of Colorado and documented the response of the Poison Canyon aquifer system several years after upward migration of methane gas occurred from the deeper Vermejo Formation coalbed production zone. Results show persistent secondary water quality impacts related to the biodegradation of methane. We identify four distinct characteristics of groundwater methane attenuation in the Poison Canyon aquifer: (i) consumption of methane and sulfate and production of sulfide and bicarbonate, (ii) methane loss coupled to production of higher-molecular-weight (C2+) gaseous hydrocarbons, (iii) patterns of 13C enrichment and depletion in methane and dissolved inorganic carbon, and (iv) a systematic shift in sulfur and oxygen isotope ratios of sulfate, indicative of microbial sulfate reduction. We also show that the biogeochemical response of the aquifer system has not mobilized naturally occurring trace metals, including arsenic, chromium, cobalt, nickel, and lead, likely due to the microbial production of hydrogen sulfide which favors stabilization of metals in aquifer solids.
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