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Characterization of soils and rock at an active oil production site: Effects of brine and hydrocarbon contamination

January 1, 2002

An active oil production site (Osage-Skiatook petroleum environmental research Site B) in Osage County, Oklahoma is under study to determine the impacts on soils and rock of brine and hydrocarbon spills. The goals of the soil and rock characterization are to 1) document and identify the type, degree, and areal extent of brine and hydrocarbon releases, 2) understand controls on the movement and retention of brine and hydrocarbons, and 3) determine the role of solid phases, such as clay and iron-bearing minerals, in natural mitigation. The types and amounts of clay minerals and oxidizers (particularly iron) are important because of the capacity of clay minerals to exchange cations that are dissolved in brines and the capacity of reactive ferric iron species to oxidize hydrocarbons.

Characterization of soils and rock includes visual and microscopic description, X-ray diffraction of bulk and clay fraction samples, separation of size fractions, determination of cation exchange capacity, bulk chemical composition, and selective extraction of iron species. Results suggest that much of the brine and hydrocarbon contamination occurs in the shallow subsurface (< 240 cm) where the soil profile varies from dark brown topsoil to reddish orange sand to greenish-gray clay. A layer of iron-stained colluvium that is present in the shallow subsurface consists of pebbles and coarse sand and forms an important conduit for fluid movement. Unusually high percentages (as much as 97 % of total iron) of reduced iron may record the passage of hydrocarbon-rich ground water. Clay minerals are abundant in some samples and are dominated by kaolinite, mixed layer illite-smectite, and smectite. The correlation of grain size and clay mineral content with soil leachate results will be discussed and high percentages of sodium on exchange sites in clay are expected in areas of past spills of produced water.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2002
Title Characterization of soils and rock at an active oil production site: Effects of brine and hydrocarbon contamination
Authors Cynthia A. Rice, James D. Cathcart, Robert A. Zielinski, James K. Otton
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70216511
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse