Assessing dissolved methane patterns in central New York groundwater

Lauren E. McPhillips, Anne Elise Creamer, Brian G. Rahm, M. Todd Walter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Study region: Groundwater in Chenango County (central New York State, USA), which is underlain by Devonian sedimentary bedrock. This region has conventional natural gas wells and is under consideration for future shale gas development using high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Study focus: The study examines current patterns of dissolved methane in groundwater, based on 113 samples from homeowner wells in the spring of 2012. Samples were analyzed for methane and other water quality parameters, and each well characterized by its landscape position and geology. Statistical testing and regression modeling was used to identify the primary environmental drivers of observed methane patterns. New hydrological insights for this region: There was no significant difference between methane concentrations in valleys versus upslope locations, in water wells less than or greater than 1. km from a conventional gas well, and across different geohydrologic units. Methane concentrations were significantly higher in groundwater dominated by sodium chloride or sodium bicarbonate compared with groundwater dominated by calcium bicarbonate, indicating bedrock interactions and lengthy residence times as controls. A multivariate regression model of dissolved methane using only three variables (sodium, hardness, and barium) explained 77% of methane variability, further emphasizing the dominance of geochemistry and hydrogeology as controls on baseline methane patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-73
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Hydrology: Regional Studies
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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