CMC Open House – October 2017


CaMI (Containment and Monitoring Institute), a business unit of CMC (Carbon Management Canada) established the Brooks field research station (FRS) to facilitate and accelerate research for geological containment and storage of CO2 as one of its many goals. Carbon capture and storage is a key component of Canada’s strategy for continued development of unconventional oil and gas deposits under growing global pressure to move toward a low carbon economy.

The G360 Institute for Groundwater Research, with Dr. Beth Parker as the Principal Investigator, have developed a growing collaboration with CaMI to lead the groundwater monitoring aspects of the study at the FRS. The primary focus of the G360 team, with Leon Halwa as Project Manager, will be to lead the groundwater characterization and monitoring of the shallow and intermediate zones before, during and after injection of the CO2, to better understand the mobility of stray gas.

On the 24th October 2017, CaMI  had an official opening and celebration of the start of the injection program, after a decade of planning, collaborations and investments.  The event was well attended with a turnout of over 70 people. The event is shown on the university of Calgary website at:

G³⁶⁰ at the 2017 NGWA Conference on Fractured Rock and Groundwater


Come visit us at the NGWA Conference on Fractured Rock and Groundwater in Burlington, Vermont on October 2-3!

Dr. Beth Parker, the Director of G360, and Dr. Jessica Meyer, a G360 PhD Research Associate will be speaking on the following topics related to High-Resolution Characterization in Fractured Rock:

Quantifying Matrix Diffusion and Redox Effects on Hexavalent Chromium Plume Conditions in a Fractured Mudstone   Beth L. Parker, Ph.D.

Comparing Rock Matrix Contaminant Profiles Downgradient of a DNAPL Source after 10 Years of Groundwater Dissolution   Jessica Meyer, Ph.D.

University of Guelph field team receives June BP Safety Star award for work on the Alice Street Site

Photo of field team receiving safety star

We are pleased to announce that three G360 team members were awarded the BP Safety Star in June of this year for their safe practices while performing field work at the Alice Street Site, a site that has been an active G360 research site as part of an NSERC CRD project under Dr. Beth Parker since 2014.

Here is an extract of the award nomination:

​During a Senior Management Observation, it was observed that the three University of Guelph students working on the project did an excellent job in identifying trip and slip hazards at the job site. A packer test was being performed on a well in order to measure vertical temperature changes in the well in order to evaluate groundwater flow in the bedrock. As part of the test, there were coils of wiring and tubing laying on the ground between the well and support trailer. The students placed caution tape around the area and placed several traffic cones on the edges. This was implemented on their own without any coaching or comments from AECOM supervisors. I personally thanked them and recognized them for doing a great job in identifying hazards and making the work area safe.”

Congratulations to Jonathan Munn, Carlos Maldaner, and Jeremy Fernandes.

Photo of the award recipients
From left to right: Jonathan Munn, Carlos Maldaner, and  Jeremy Fernandes receiving the BP Safety Star Award in June 2017

Free Paper Available: Monitoring the evolution and migration of a methane gas plume in an unconfined sandy aquifer using time-lapse GPR and ERT

picture of contaminant hydrogeology book cover

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new open access journal article in the Journal of Contaminant Hydrology by G360 researchers in collaboration with researchers from the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia.

Fugitive methane (CH4) leakage associated with conventional and unconventional petroleum development (e.g., shale gas) may pose significant risks to shallow groundwater. While the potential threat of stray (CH4) gas in aquifers has been acknowledged, few studies have examined the nature of its migration and fate in a shallow groundwater flow system. This study examines the geophysical responses observed from surface during a 72 day field-scale simulated CH4 leak in an unconfined sandy aquifer at Canadian Forces Base Borden, Canada, to better understand the transient behaviour of fugitive CH4 gas in the subsurface. Time-lapse ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) were used to monitor the distribution and migration of the gas-phase and assess any impacts to groundwater hydrochemistry. Geophysical measurements captured the transient formation of a CH4 gas plume emanating from the injector, which was accompanied by an increase in total dissolved gas pressure (PTDG). Subsequent reductions in PTDG were accompanied by reduced bulk resistivity around the injector along with an increase in the GPR reflectivity along horizontal bedding reflectors farther downgradient. Repeat temporal GPR reflection profiling identified three events with major peaks in reflectivity, interpreted to represent episodic lateral CH4 gas release events into the aquifer. Here, a gradual increase in PTDG near the injector caused a sudden lateral breakthrough of gas in the direction of groundwater flow, causing free-phase CH4 to migrate much farther than anticipated based on groundwater advection. CH4 accumulated along subtle permeability boundaries demarcated by grain-scale bedding within the aquifer characteristic of numerous Borden-aquifer multi-phase flow experiments. Diminishing reflectivity over a period of days to weeks suggests buoyancy-driven migration to the vadose zone and/or CH4 dissolution into groundwater. Lateral and vertical CH4 migration was primarily governed by subtle, yet measurable heterogeneity and anisotropy in the aquifer.

This research was made possible through an NSERC Strategic Partnerships Grant Project (SPG-P) awarded to Drs. John Cherry and Beth Parker (principal investigators), and collaborators Drs. Bernhard Mayer, Ulrich Mayer and Cathryn Ryan. Dr. Aaron Cahill provided a major role with proposal writing, experimental design and overall project management, both with field implementation and project reporting, and is now a research associate at the University of British Columbia Department of Earth, Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences. An NSERC Banting Fellowship provided support to Dr. Colby Steelman.

Potentially Explosive Methane Gas Mobile in Groundwater, Poses Safety Risk: Study

Photo of people working at the drill rig

Researchers from G360, The University of British Columbia, and The University of Calgary’s latest paper on Methane Gas has received a lot of attention. Their latest paper was recently featured on the University of Guelph’s Website:

The Nature Geoscience Article can be found here.

Abstract: Mobility and persistence of methane in groundwater in a controlled-release field experiment

Cahill, A.G., Steelman, C., Forde, O., Kuloyo, O., Ruff, S.E., Mayer, B., Mayer, K.U., Strous, M., Ryan, M.C., Cherry, J.A., Parker, B.L.

Expansion of shale gas extraction has fuelled global concern about the potential impact of fugitive methane on groundwater and climate. Although methane leakage from wells is well documented, the consequences on groundwater remain sparsely studied and are thought by some to be minor. Here we present the results of a 72-day methane gas injection experiment into a shallow, flat-lying sand aquifer. In our experiment, although a significant fraction of methane vented to the atmosphere, an equal portion remained in the groundwater. We find that methane migration in the aquifer was governed by subtle grain-scale bedding that impeded buoyant free-phase gas flow and led to episodic releases of free-phase gas. The result was lateral migration of gas beyond that expected by groundwater advection alone. Methane persisted in the groundwater zone despite active growth of methanotrophic bacteria, although much of the methane that vented into the vadose zone was oxidized. Our findings demonstrate that even small-volume releases of methane gas can cause extensive and persistent free phase and solute plumes emanating from leaks that are detectable only by contaminant hydrogeology monitoring at high resolution.