May 11, 2004
Innovative Water Quality and Coal Database Becomes Interactive

The Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) in conjunction with the Wyoming Water Resource Data System (WRDS), Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC), Wyoming State EngineerÕs Office, Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center, Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and the U.S. Geological Survey-Water Resources Division has completed the Interactive Geologic, Hydrologic, and Water Quality Database and Model for the Northern Powder River Basin (PRB), Wyoming. The site can be accessed on the Internet at http://ims.wrds.uwyo.edu/prb/prb.html. The project was more than two years in the making and was funded through the Wyoming Water Development Commission.

The primary objective of the project was to relate water quality analyses from water, oil, gas, and coalbed methane wells to specific coal beds or geologic formations. The project will enable developers, water users, or regulators to more effectively estimate the quality of water before it is produced.

A geologic model was developed for the project area, including a detailed bedrock geologic map, coal bed outcrops, 32 unique coal bed horizons, and geologic tops or eroded tops from five key geologic formations in the project area. The model was developed from geophysical well data collected from over 6000 oil, gas, and coalbed methane wells. Initial coal correlation data were purchased from Goolsby, Finley and Associates of Casper, Wyoming and modified by the WSGS.

A ground water quality model was also developed for specific coal beds, coal sequences, and geologic formations. The model was developed by acquiring all available water quality data, determining which coal beds or geologic formations the water was derived from, and then mapping the concentrations of a number of individual constituents such as total dissolved solids, fluoride, sulfate, plus many others. Surface water quality data were also acquired and plotted in relation to stream courses.

The user of the database can generate Òon-the-flyÓ geologic columns anywhere in the project area. A geologic column shows the depth of various subsurface horizons, such as coal beds or formations. In addition, the user can generate a geologic cross section at any location. A cross section is like taking a vertical slice out of the earth, and it shows the relationships of coal beds or formations to one another over a selected distance.

Anyone with access to the Internet will be able to utilize this database. The data is served through an Internet Map Server (IMS). The WSGS, WRDS, and WOGCC will all have links to the IMS from their web sites.

For more information about this topic, contact James C. Case at (307) 766-2286, ext. 225; Robert M. Lyman at ext. 233; or Ron Surdam at ext. 223.

Press Release
from the Office of the Wyoming State Geologist
Ron Surdam, State Geologist