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TitleThe Utica Shale and gas play in southern Quebec: Geological and hydrogeological syntheses and methodological approaches to groundwater risk evaluation
AuthorLavoie, DORCID logo; Rivard, CORCID logo; Lefebvre, R; Séjourné, S; Thériault, R; Duchesne, M JORCID logo; Ahad, J M EORCID logo; Wang, B; Benoit, N; Lamontagne, C
SourceInternational Journal of Coal Geology vol. 126, 2014 p. 77-91,
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20130072
PublisherElsevier BV
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf; html
ProvinceQuebec; Ontario
NTS21L; 31H; 31I
AreaSt. Lawrence Platform
Lat/Long WENS -75.0000 -71.0000 46.7500 45.0000
Subjectsfossil fuels; hydrogeology; geochemistry; environmental geology; hydrocarbons; hydrocarbon potential; groundwater; groundwater resources; groundwater pollution; groundwater geochemistry; environmental analysis; environmental studies; environmental impacts; Utica Shale
Illustrationslocation maps; stratigraphic columns; photographs; plots
ProgramEnvironmental Geoscience Shale Gas - groundwater
AbstractThe risk of groundwater contamination from shale gas exploration and development is amajor societal concern, especially in populated areas where groundwater is an essential source of drinking water and for agricultural or industrial use. Since groundwater decontamination is difficult, or nearly impossible, it is essential to evaluate exploration and production conditions that would prevent or at least minimize risks of groundwater contamination. The current consensus in recent literature is that these risks are primarily related to engineering issues, including casing integrity and surface activities, such as truck traffic (equipment and fluid haulage), waste management (mainly drill cuttings), andwater storage and treatment when hydraulic fracturing is utilized. Concerns have also been raised with respect to groundwater contamination that could result from potential fracture or fault interconnections between the shale unit and surficial aquifers, which would allow fracturing fluids and methane to reach the surface away fromthewellbore. Despite the fact that groundwater resources are relatively well characterized in some regions, there is currently no recognizedmethod to evaluate the vulnerability or risks to aquifers resulting from hydrocarbon industry operations carried out at great depths. This paper focuses on the Utica Shale of the St. Lawrence Platform (Quebec), where an environmental study aiming to evaluate potential risks for aquifers related to shale gas development has been initiated. To provide the context of these research efforts, this paper describes the regional tectono-stratigraphic evolution and current stress regime of the Cambrian–Ordovician St. Lawrence Platform, aswell as the Utica Shale internal stratigraphy, mineralogy and thermal maturation. Then, the hydrogeological context of the St. Lawrence Platformis discussed. Finally, the methodology for this environmental study, based on geological, geophysical, geomechanical, hydrogeological and geochemical data, is presented.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
The perceived risk of aquifer contamination during exploration and development of shale gas necessitates a scientific evaluation of these potential risks. This contribution presents the actual state of knowledge on the geological and hydrogeological understanding of the St. Lawrence Platform in southern Quebec, which is hosting the Utica Shale, one of the major shale gas target in Canada. This synthesis is followed by a detailed presentation of the research protocol to be carried out on a 2010 industry drilling site in order to evaluate the environmental risks of that new energy file. This manuscript is an invited contribution from the editorial board of the ¿International Journal of Coal Geology¿ for a special issue on environmental risks of shale gas exploration and development in North America and Europe. A second manuscript presenting the overall Canadian situation with respect to shale gas development is currently also being prepared.

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