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Shallow Groundwater and Quaternary Geology Investigations Supporting the Montney Water Project

Lead Researcher(s):  BC Ministry of Energy and Mines, BC Ministry of Environment

Project ID:  2010-MNT003

Key Research Organization(s):  MAF Geographix, Lowen Hydrogeological Consulting

Project Location:  Northeast BC

Strategic Focus Area:  Water

Summary



Understanding the shallow geology, and associated aquifers and aquitards, in the Montney area is critical for understanding water availability in the Play. This component of the Montney Water Project looked at compiling data for unconsolidated sediments, including outcrop mapping for road-accessible outcrops. Shallow aquifers in the area were identified using existing resources, including updating the WELLS database (BC’s register of public and domestic water wells) and updating aquifer mapping.

View Montney Water Project Page

Research Statement

The Montney Play in British Columbia’s Northeast Region is a world-class unconventional natural gas resource. Water is an essential component of shale gas development and is used for drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fraccing or fracking, is a process where a mixture of water and sand is injected into the deep shale at a high pressure to create small cracks in the rock which allows gas to flow.

In 2010, the Montney Water Project began to complete an inventory and digital compilation of publicly available information on water in the Montney Play. This component of the work focused on unconsolidated geology and shallow (<250 m deep) groundwater resources.

Goals

The goals for this project were to:

  • Provide digital compilation of surficial geology mapping
  • Undertake field investigation and mapping of easily accessible outcrops
  • Improve understanding of shallow aquifers in the area
  • Improve database of publicly available well information

Benefits

This project provided a better awareness of shallow groundwater current usage and availability for allocation of water.

Location

This project took place in the Montney Play in BC’s Northeast Region.

Results

This component included compilation of existing 1:250,000 scale surficial geology maps to cover the area, to present all data with a common legend, and updated to reflect the Geological Survey of Canada’s national surficial geology legend. This work was undertaken by the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines and MAF Geographix.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines also provided additional soil and surficial geology data through compilation of available data and additional field mapping of road-accessible outcrops in the area. This data was presented in five maps showing bedrock topography, drift thickness, modern, interpretation of paleovalleys, and density of bedrock contact point data. This data is useful for watershed analysis input, and also provides important information for identifying shallow aquifers and local geology.

The publicly available WELLS database (https://apps.nrs.gov.bc.ca/gwells/) was updated. The Ministry of Environment solicited new groundwater data in the area. The data was primarily water well data, and included reports from drilling companies and the Northern Health Authority. Additional water chemistry data was integrated by Foundry Spatial into the overall Montney Water Project data compilation.

Aquifer mapping in the area was also updated as part of this project. Available hydrogeological information, including from previous studies in the area, was used to map and classify shallow aquifers in the region. This work was completed by Lowen Hydrogeological Consulting, Ltd.  The work was used as input into the WELLS database, and in the BC Water Resources Atlas.

Deliverables


  • Final Deliverables

    • Geoscience BC Report 2011-07 / MEMPR Energy Open File 2011-1: Preliminary bedrock topography and drift thickness of the Montney Play
      Five maps from the Montney Play Area of northeast British Columbia are presented that depict bedrock topography, drift thickness, modern, interpretation of paleovalleys, and density of bedrock contact point data. The bedrock topography has been modelled based on ~1500 subsurface data records from several shallow subsurface data sources including: water well data from British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Prairie Farmers Rehabilitation Administration, several academic sources (Rutter, 1977; Mathews, 1978, 1980; Hartman, 2005; Hartman and Clague, 2008), and geological sections logged from exposures in the Murray, Pine, and Pouce Coupe river valleys and more than 500 surface observations stations from fieldwork and aerial photographs.
      View report summary

    • Geoscience BC Report 2011-08 / MEMPR Open File 2011-2: Compilation of Geological Survey of Canada Surficial Geology Maps for NTS 94A and 93P
      The map presented is a compilation of surface materials from two previously published 1:250 000 surficial geology maps completed by the Geological Survey of Canada. The extent, geometry, and interpretation of surface material polygons has not been changed from the original maps with the exception of those along the map boundary. Polygon labels have been modified and summarized to conform to the Geological Survey of Canada’s preliminary national surficial geology legend.
      View report summary