NWT Laird Basin Groundwater Quality Investigation

Morwick G360 PROJECT TEAM: Dr. Beth Parker, Dr. Colby Steelman, Amanda Pierce, Nathan Glas (MASc Candidate) & Oliver Conway-White (MASc Candidate)

Conventional and unconventional oil and gas development pose potential threats to groundwater resources. In order to anticipate environmental impacts to nearby aquifers, baseline groundwater quality studies are important. The Morwick G360 Institute in collaboration with the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and the University of Calgary (UC) will be conducting a baseline groundwater quality investigation in the portion of the Transboundary Liard Basin located within the Northwest Territories (NWT). The Liard Basin is the second largest oil and gas deposit in Canada and is currently being developed in British Columbia and the Yukon. This study will aim to determine the quantity and quality of groundwater within the Liard Basin; to characterize the groundwater flow system and interaction with nearby surface water bodies; to define the sequence of hydrogeologic units (HGUs); and to evaluate the vulnerability of the local and basin-scale aquifers. To achieve these goals, it is proposed that a series of boreholes be drilled, and multi-level monitoring systems subsequently installed at locations within the Liard Basin in and around the community of Fort Liard.

Drilling is set to start this coming August. In preparation for the drilling efforts potential groundwater baseline monitoring sites were evaluated by Morwick G360 staff, Amanda Pierce, and MASc students, Nathan Glas and Oliver Conway-White, in October 2018. Five potential sites were reconnoitered, and a surface geophysics survey was completed at each location.  The five sites were chosen based on their spatial distribution within the basin and the possible presence or absence of the important water producing aquifer, known as the Dunvegan Formation, and due to their proximity to important surface water bodies, such as the Liard and Petitot Rivers.  An electrical resistivity tomography survey was completed at each location as it provides information about the electrical resistivity of sediments and rock below ground surface and can help to identify important lithological changes, such as the interface between shale and sandstone. The ERT survey data will help to estimate drilling depths for the proposed boreholes.

View of the Liard River.
Location of the Study Area within the Liard Basin and five potential baseline groundwater monitoring sites.
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