The effects of a gas well blow out on groundwater chemistry

Walton Ross Kelly, Gerald Matisoff, J. Berton Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Water wells were sampled near North Madison, Ohio, following a gas well blow out that injected large amounts of CH4 into near-surface groundwater Chemical analyses showed elevated levels of Fe+2, Mn+2, Ca+2, sulfide, alkalinity, and pH, and low levels of dissolved oxygen, SO4 -2, and NO3 - in CH4-affected wells compared to unaffected wells. Sulfate reduction is quantitatively the most important vehicle for CH4 oxidation Equilibrium thermodynamic computer models were used to simulate groundwaters from the North Madison area Model results showed that CH4 is oxidized to HCO3 -, SO4 -2 is reduced, iron and manganese oxides are reduced and dissolved, and pH increases These simulations are in excellent agreement with trends observed in the field data A laboratory experiment was designed to simulate CH4 - perturbed groundwater in the methane-perturbed system, sulfide increased significantly, providing direct evidence for methane oxidation by sulfate reduction Although suitable anaerobic methane-oxidizing bacteria have not been isolated from groundwater aquifers, the combination of field data, laboratory experiment, and computer simulation form a convincing argument that CH4 perturbation of aquifers can and does affect groundwater chemistry

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-213
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Geology and Water Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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