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Geohydrologic and water-quality characterization of a fractured-bedrock test hole in an area of Marcellus shale gas development, Tioga County, Pennsylvania

January 1, 2015

An integrated analysis of core, geophysical logs, gas isotopes, and specific-depth water-quality samples from the Cherry Flats test hole was used to characterize the stratigraphy, water-bearing zones, and groundwater quality at a site in southern Tioga County, Pennsylvania. The study was completed as a cooperative effort between the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey (BTGS) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The multi-disciplinary characterization of the test hole provided information to aid the bedrock mapping of the Cherry Flats 7.5-minute quadrangle by BTGS, and to help quantify the depth and character of fresh and saline groundwater in an area of shale-gas exploration.
The Cherry Flats test hole was cored to a depth of 1,513 feet (ft) below land surface (bls) and cased to 189 ft through the collapsed mine workings of the former Arnot No. 2 underground coal mine. The test hole penetrated
128.0 ft of Allegheny Formation and 154.1 ft of Pottsville Formation of Pennsylvanian age, 564.8 ft of Huntley Mountain Formation of Mississippian and Devonian age, and 666.3 ft of Catskill Formation of Devonian age. Core recovery was nearly 100 percent, except where
complete core loss occurred from a depth of 1,231.1 to 1,240.8 ft. Several coal beds and mined-out coal horizons were penetrated in the Allegheny and Pottsville Formations. The test hole penetrated the entire thickness of the
Huntley Mountain Formation and was completed in the middle part of the Catskill Formation.
Bedding features penetrated by the test hole were estimated to have a strike of 021 degrees and dip about 1.7 degrees to the southeast, consistent
with the test-hole location on the north limb of the Blossburg syncline. Most fractures penetrated by the test hole were parallel to bedding, with steeply dipping fractures present but much less common. Fracture density, determined from optical televiewer, acoustic televiewer, and video logs, generally increased with depth from the base of casing to about 400 ft bls, then decreased with depth to the bottom of the hole except for an increase from 506 to 568 ft bls. Very few fractures were penetrated from 600 to 850 ft.
The depths of fresh and saline water-bearing zones were identified in the test hole by geophysical-log analysis and, for inflow zones, verified by specific-depth groundwater sampling by the use of a wire-line point sampler.
Under ambient conditions and during pumping of the test hole, fresh water entered the hole from fractures at 567 and 580.5 ft bls, within grayish-red siltstone and greenish-gray sandstone, respectively, and flowed upward and
exited at fractures from 303 to 319.5 ft; a very minor amount exited into fractures within coal beds at 240.4 and 252 ft bls. Transmissivity, estimated from analysis of the specific-capacity data and flowmeter logs, was about 18 ft2/d for the fracture zones from 567 to 580.5 ft and 6.7 ft2/d for fracture zones from 240.4 to 252 ft bls. The analysis estimated the hydraulic head of
the lower zone and that of the upper flow zone was 8 ft higher and 37 ft lower than the composite water level in the test hole, respectively. Water samples of the freshwater inflow from zones at 567 to 580.5 ft bls had a total dissolved solids concentration of 577 mg/L indicating that these zone are in the lower part of the active groundwater flow system.
Below the freshwater-bearing zone at 580.5 ft, the flowmeter did not detect any vertical flow in the test hole, and the gradient of the temperature
log approached the geothermal gradient, indicating little ambient fluid flow and minimal fracture transmissivity below this depth. However, small seeps of saline water having total dissolved solids concentrations of greater
than about 6,200 mg/L at 945 and 946 ft bls, from dark-greenish-gray to greenish-gray silty beds, were delineated by a time series of specific conductancelogs and observed on the video log. A wat

Publication Year 2015
Title Geohydrologic and water-quality characterization of a fractured-bedrock test hole in an area of Marcellus shale gas development, Tioga County, Pennsylvania
Authors John H. Williams, Dennis W. Risser, Clifford H. Dodge
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype State or Local Government Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 15-24.0
Index ID 70162626
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pennsylvania Water Science Center