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Joanna had been a hydrologist with the USGS since the mid-1980s and has spent most of her career in Helena, MT. Her projects focus on water quality, water availability, water use, and energy in the Williston Basin. Joanna’s work has been recognized outside the USGS with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Research Award, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Environmental Achievement Award, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Honor Award. She is currently the Chief of the Groundwater and Surface Water Section for the WY-MT Water Science Center.
Science and Products
Brine Contamination to Plains and Potholes Environments from Energy Development in the Williston Basin
Delineation of brine contamination in and near the East Poplar oil field, Fort Peck Indian Reservation, northeastern Montana
Brine is a byproduct of crude oil production. Handling and disposal of brine during the last 50 years in the East Poplar oil field has resulted in contamination of not only the shallow Quaternary aquifers, but also the Poplar River. Previous investigations have documented and partially delineated the extent of brine contamination in the East Poplar oil field during the early 1990s...
The development of two nationally important energy-producing areas, the Williston structural basin (containing the Bakken Formation) and Powder River structural basin, provide a critical opportunity to study the water-energy nexus within a groundwater context. Large volumes of water are needed for energy development in these basins. The hydraulically connected aquifers in the...
Project Period: 2016-ongoing
Cooperator: U.S. Geological Survey Water Availability and Use Science Program
Project Chiefs: Kathleen Rowland, Gregory Delzer, Joanna Thamke, and Janet Carter
Williston Basin groundwater availability, United States and Canada
The Williston Basin contains important oil and gas resources for the Nation. Freshwater supplies are limited in this semiarid area, and oil and gas development can require large volumes of freshwater. Groundwater is the primary source of water for many water users in the Williston Basin, so to better understand these resources, the U.S. Geological...Thamke, Joanna N.; Long, Andrew J.; Davis, Kyle W.
Groundwater availability of the Williston Basin, United States and Canada
Executive SummaryThe Williston Basin of the Northern Great Plains is a sedimentary basin—a geologic bowl-like structure filled with layered sedimentary rocks dating as far back as the Paleozoic age. The basin, which is nationally important for the production of energy resources, spans Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota in the United States,...Long, Andrew J.; Thamke, Joanna N.; Davis, Kyle W.; Bartos, Timothy T.
Characterization and origin of brines from the Bakken-Three Forks petroleum system in the Williston Basin, USA
Brine (also referred to as ‘produced water’) samples were collected from 28 wells producing oil from the Late Devonian-Early Mississippian Bakken and Three Forks Formations in the Williston Basin of eastern Montana and western North Dakota. The samples were analyzed for major ions, trace metals, stable isotopes, and strontium isotopes. The brines...Peterman, Zell; Thamke, Joanna N.; Futa, Kiyoto; Oliver, Thomas A.
Assessment of water and proppant quantities associated with petroleum production from the Bakken and Three Forks Formations, Williston Basin Province, Montana and North Dakota, 2016
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has completed an assessment of water and proppant requirements and water production associated with the possible future production of undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Three Forks and Bakken Formations (Late Devonian to Early Mississippian) of the Williston Basin Province in Montana and North Dakota. This...Haines, Seth S.; Varela, Brian A.; Hawkins, Sarah J.; Gianoutsos, Nicholas J.; Thamke, Joanna N.; Engle, Mark A.; Tennyson, Marilyn E.; Schenk, Christopher J.; Gaswirth, Stephanie B.; Marra, Kristen R.; Kinney, Scott A.; Mercier, Tracey J.; Martinez, Cericia D.
Chemical and isotopic changes in Williston Basin brines during long-term oil production: An example from the Poplar dome, Montana
Brine samples were collected from 30 conventional oil wells producing mostly from the Charles Formation of the Madison Group in the East and Northwest Poplar oil fields on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Montana. Dissolved concentrations of major ions, trace metals, Sr isotopes, and stable isotopes (oxygen and hydrogen) were analyzed to compare...Peterman, Zell; Thamke, Joanna N.
Estimating national water use associated with unconventional oil and gas development
The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Water Availability and Use Science Program (WAUSP) goals are to provide a more accurate assessment of the status of the water resources of the United States and assist in the determination of the quantity and quality of water that is available for beneficial uses. These assessments would identify long-term...Carter, Janet M.; Macek-Rowland, Kathleen M.; Thamke, Joanna N.; Delzer, Gregory C.
Conceptual model of the uppermost principal aquifer systems in the Williston and Powder River structural basins, United States and Canada
The three uppermost principal aquifer systems of the Northern Great Plains—the glacial, lower Tertiary, and Upper Cretaceous aquifer systems—are described in this report and provide water for irrigation, mining, public and domestic supply, livestock, and industrial uses. These aquifer systems primarily are present in two nationally important...Long, Andrew J.; Aurand, Katherine R.; Bednar, Jennifer M.; Davis, Kyle W.; McKaskey, Jonathan D.R.G.; Thamke, Joanna N.
Hydrogeologic framework of the uppermost principal aquifer systems in the Williston and Powder River structural basins, United States and Canada
The glacial, lower Tertiary, and Upper Cretaceous aquifer systems in the Williston and Powder River structural basins within the United States and Canada are the uppermost principal aquifer systems and most accessible sources of groundwater for these energy-producing basins. The glacial aquifer system covers the northeastern part of the Williston...Thamke, Joanna N.; LeCain, Gary D.; Ryter, Derek W.; Sando, Roy; Long, Andrew J.
Brine contamination to aquatic resources from oil and gas development in the Williston Basin, United States
The Williston Basin, which includes parts of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota in the United States and the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan in Canada, has been a leading domestic oil and gas producing region for more than one-half a century. Currently, there are renewed efforts to develop oil and gas resources from deep geologic...Gleason, Robert A.; Tangen, Brian A.; Gleason, Robert A.; Contributions by Chesley-Preston, Tara L.; Coleman, James L.; Haines, Seth S.; Jenni, Karen E.; Nieman, Timothy L.; Peterman, Zell E.; van der Burg, Max Post; Preston, Todd M.; Smith, Bruce D.; Tangen, Brian A.; Thamke, Joanna N.
Delineation of brine contamination in and near the East Poplar oil field, Fort Peck Indian Reservation, northeastern Montana, 2004-09
The extent of brine contamination in the shallow aquifers in and near the East Poplar oil field is as much as 17.9 square miles and appears to be present throughout the entire saturated zone in contaminated areas. The brine contamination affects 15–37 billion gallons of groundwater. Brine contamination in the shallow aquifers east of the Poplar...Thamke, Joanna N.; Smith, Bruce D.
A framework for assessing water and proppant use and flowback water extraction associated with development of continuous petroleum resources
The U.S. Geological Survey is developing approaches for the quantitative assessment of water and proppant involved with possible future production of continuous petroleum deposits. The assessment approach is an extension of existing U.S. Geological Survey petroleum-assessment methods, and it aims to provide objective information that helps...Haines, Seth S.; Cook, Troy; Thamke, Joanna N.; Davis, Kyle W.; Long, Andrew J.; Healy, Richard W.; Hawkins, Sarah J.; Engle, Mark A.
Borehole geophysical data for the East Poplar oil field area, Fort Peck Indian Reservation, northeastern Montana, 1993, 2004, and 2005
Areas of high electrical conductivity in shallow aquifers in the East Poplar oil field area were delineated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, in order to interpret areas of saline-water contamination. Ground, airborne, and borehole geophysical data were collected in the East...Smith, Bruce D.; Thamke, Joanna N.; Tyrrell, Christa
Energy development in the Williston Basin oil production area of Montana and North Dakota, which includes the Bakken and Three Forks Formations, has not affected shallow groundwater quality, according to a recently published study in the journalGroundwater.
Citizens should not be alarmed if they see a low-flying helicopter towing a large wire-loop contraption hanging from a cable in the Poplar, Montana area during the next couple of weeks.
A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey describes the extent and movement of contamination in the East Poplar oil field area in northeastern Montana.