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Probabilistic Groundwater Flow, Particle Tracking and Uncertainty Analysis for Environmental Receptor Vulnerability Assessment of a Coal Seam Gas Project

1
CSIRO Land and Water, Adelaide 5000, Australia
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CSIRO Land and Water, Brisbane 4000, Australia
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CSIRO Data61, Brisbane 4000, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(11), 3177; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113177
Received: 29 September 2020 / Revised: 1 November 2020 / Accepted: 8 November 2020 / Published: 13 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology and Hydrogeology)
The production of coalbed methane, or coal seam gas (CSG) in Australia increased 250-fold since the 1990s to around 1502 petajoules in 2019 and continues to expand. Groundwater flow in the aquifers intersected by gas wells could potentially facilitate a transport pathway for migration of contaminants or poorer quality water from deeper formations. While regulatory and mitigation mechanisms are put in place to minimize the risks, quantitative environmental impact assessments are also undertaken. When many gas wells are drilled in a wide area where many potential receptors are also spatially distributed, potential source-receptor combinations are too numerous to undertake detailed contamination risk assessment using contaminant transport modelling. However, valuable information can be gleaned from the analysis of groundwater flow directions and velocities to inform and prioritise contamination risk assessment and can precede computationally challenging stochastic contaminant transport modelling. A probabilistic particle tracking approach was developed as a computationally efficient screening analysis of contamination pathways for a planned CSG development near Narrabri in northern New South Wales, Australia. Particle tracking was run iteratively with a numerical groundwater flow model across a range of plausible parameter sets to generate an ensemble of estimated flow paths through the main Great Artesian Basin aquifer in the area. Spatial patterns of path lines and spatial relationships with potential receptors including neighbouring groundwater extraction wells and hydrologically connected ecological systems were analysed. Particle velocities ranged from 0.5 to 11 m/year and trajectories indicated dedicated contaminant transport modeling would be ideally focused at the local scale where wells are near potential receptors. The results of this type of analysis can inform the design of monitoring strategies and direct new data collection to reduce uncertainty and improve the effectiveness of adaptive management strategies and early detection of impacts. View Full-Text
Keywords: CSG; coalbed methane; groundwater vulnerability; mod-PATH3DU; MODFLOW-USG; Australia; Great Artesian Basin; screening CSG; coalbed methane; groundwater vulnerability; mod-PATH3DU; MODFLOW-USG; Australia; Great Artesian Basin; screening
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MDPI and ACS Style

Gonzalez, D.; Janardhanan, S.; Pagendam, D.E.; Gladish, D.W. Probabilistic Groundwater Flow, Particle Tracking and Uncertainty Analysis for Environmental Receptor Vulnerability Assessment of a Coal Seam Gas Project. Water 2020, 12, 3177. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113177

AMA Style

Gonzalez D, Janardhanan S, Pagendam DE, Gladish DW. Probabilistic Groundwater Flow, Particle Tracking and Uncertainty Analysis for Environmental Receptor Vulnerability Assessment of a Coal Seam Gas Project. Water. 2020; 12(11):3177. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113177

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gonzalez, Dennis; Janardhanan, Sreekanth; Pagendam, Daniel E.; Gladish, Daniel W. 2020. "Probabilistic Groundwater Flow, Particle Tracking and Uncertainty Analysis for Environmental Receptor Vulnerability Assessment of a Coal Seam Gas Project" Water 12, no. 11: 3177. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113177

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