A Year in Review: Geoscience BC Energy & Water Projects

By: Carlos Salas, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer
Geoscience BC released the Summary of Activities 2020: Energy & Water in January 2021. It contains 16 papers from Geoscience BC-funded projects or scholarship recipients. The papers contribute to meeting four strategic objectives from the Geoscience BC Strategic Plan 2018-2022: facilitating responsible natural resource development; advancing science and innovative geoscience technologies; enabling clean energy and understanding water.

Links to project and scholarship website pages, where copies of each paper can be found, are provided. Alternatively, the complete Summary of Activities 2020: Energy & Water document can be downloaded as one document.

Facilitating Responsible Natural Resource Development
The first three papers in the Summary of Activities 2020: Energy & Water focus on furthering our understanding of induced seismicity in the Kiskatinaw Seismic Monitoring and Mitigation Area (KSMMA). The Amplification of Seismic Ground Motion Hazard Mapping for the Fort St. John – Dawson Creek Areaproject update includes new shear-wave velocity (Vs) data acquired to categorize and map surface sediments with respect to their effect on ground-motion amplification. An Understanding and Mitigating Induced Seismicity Risk in the Kiskatinaw Area, BC project update, in addition to research on induced seismicity, expounds on the unique opportunity of using a dense seismographic network to monitor background seismicity during a quiescent period attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. A paper on the Comprehensive Investigation of Injection-Induced Earthquakes in Northeastern British Columbia project details earthquake-triggering mechanisms attributable to hydraulic fracturing. It suggests that a moment magnitude (Mw) 4.6 event occurred on a pre-existing fault with a significant amount of preloaded tectonic strain.

The next four papers focus primarily on novel techniques, such as multivariate analysis and machine learning or source parameter inversions, that may aid in understanding seismic susceptibility and mitigation techniques. There are two papers on the Development of an Induced Seismicity Susceptibility Framework and Map for NEBC using an Integrated Machine Learning and Mechanisitc Validation Approach project, with the first paper outlining how researchers in the first phase of work apply different machine-learning algorithms to determine the relative importance of several geological and operational parameters in relation to the triggering of induced seismicity. The second paper investigates the dependence of induced-seismicity magnitudes on differential stress and pore pressure using supervised machine learning. Scholarship recipient Marco Roth of Ruhr University Bochum discusses preliminary results from source parameter inversions of induced seismic events from the KSMMA area. The last paper in this section is from scholarship recipient Paulina Wozniakowska of the University of Calgary. It describes analysis of the seismogenic-activation potential of the Montney Formation.

Advancing Science and Innovative Geoscience Technologies
The first of four papers in this section provides an update on the Wastewater Disposal in the Maturing Montney Play Fairway of NEBC project. Next are two papers on the Distribution, Origin and Implications of Hydrogen Sulphide in Unconventional Reservoir Rocks in Western Canada with Insights into the Stratigraphic Zonation and Lateral Variability of Producible Hydrocarbon Liquids project, and researchers discuss hydrogen sulphide sources in the Montney and Doig formations, respectively. In the last of the four papers, scholarship recipient Victoria Chevrot of the University of Alberta models fluid migration and distribution in the Montney Formation.

Enabling Clean Energy
An update is given on summer 2020 field work for the Garibaldi Geothermal Volcanic Belt Assessment Project. This project is continuing research into the geothermal-resource potential of the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt in BC’s Southwest Region.

Understanding Water
Four papers deal with water research in the Peace Region. There are two papers on the Peace Regional Scientific Groundwater Monitoring Network Installation Study. The first is an activity report on the installation of a purpose-built groundwater monitoring network that is characterizing groundwater methane in the region. The second paper discusses groundwater recharge in a confined paleovalley setting. The Assessment of Fugitive Natural Gas on Near-Surface Groundwater Quality paper reports on a multidisciplinary experiment at the Hudson’s Hope Field Research Station and the controlled release of natural gas into a confined aquifer. In the remaining two water reports, researchers provide an overview of the unique Pilot Collaborative Water Monitoring Program, Northeast BC aimed at gathering Western science water quantity and quality measurements as well as gathering Indigenous Traditional Knowledge at multiple river sites in the Peace Region of northeastern BC.

Published Reports in 2020
Geoscience BC also released interim and final Geoscience BC reports and maps in 2020.