USGS

Water-Resources Investigations Report 98-4180

In cooperation with the City of Warren and Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Water Quality in the Vicinity of Mosquito Creek Lake, Trumbull County, Ohio in Relation to the Chemistry of Locally Occurring Oil, Natural Gas, and Brine

By G.J. Barton, R.C. Burruss, and R.T. Ryder


ABSTRACT

Environmental samples collected in the Mosquito Creek Lake area were used to characterize water quality in relation to the chemistry of locally occurring oil, natural gas, and brine and to establish baseline water quality. Mosquito Creek Lake (a manmade reservoir) and the shallow bedrock aquifers near the lake are major sources of potable water in central Trumbull County. The city of Warren relies on the lake as a sole source of potable water. Some of the lake bottom may be in direct hydraulic connection with the underlying aquifers. The city of Cortland, along the southeastern shore of the lake, relies on the Cussewago Sandstone aquifer as a sole source of potable water. This aquifer subcrops beneath the glacio-fluvial sediments that underlie the lake. Nearly all residential homes around the lake, with the exception of homes in the city of Cortland, rely on domestic supply wells as a source of potable water.

Oil and natural gas exploration and production have been ongoing in the Mosquito Creek Lakearea since the discovery of the historic Mecca Oil Pool in the Mississippian Berea and Cussewago Sandstones in 1860. Since the late 1970' s, the major drilling objective and zone of production is the Lower Silurian Clinton sandstone. The oil and natural gas resources of the Mosquito Creek Lake area, including reservoir pressure, production history, and engineering and abandonment practices are described in this report.

The chemical and isotopic characteristics of the historic Mecca oil and natural gas are very different than those of the Clinton sandstone oil and natural gas. Gas chromatograms show that Mecca oil samples are extensively altered by biodegradation, whereas Clinton sandstone oils are not. Extensive alteration of Mecca oil is consistent with their occurrence at very shallow depths (less than 100 ft below land surface) where microbial activity can affect their composition. Also, the carbon-isotope composition of dissolved methane gas from Berea and Cussewago Sandstone water samples indicates that the gas is microbially generated, whereas the Clinton sandstone gases are thermogenically generated.

Methane gas, in addition to crude oil, occurs naturally in the shallow Berea and Cussewago Sandstone aquifers in the Mosquito Creek Lake area and concentrations of dissolved methane are significant in the city of Cortland public-supply wells and in the domestic-supply wells near the southern shore of the lake. Water associated with oil and gas in the Clinton sandstone is a brine with high concentrations of chloride. Water from the Berea and Cussewago Sandstones, however, is fresh and potable. The contrasting geochemical characteristics are important for addressing water-quality issues that relate to oil and natural gas development in the Mosquito Creek area.

A reexamination of the geologic framework and results of a subsurface-gas survey show that crude oil in the historic Mecca Oil Pool probably does not seep into Mosquito Creek Lake. Environmental samples show no evidence of any measurable release of oil, gas, or brine from the deeper Clinton sandstone oil and gas wells to the shallow aquifers, the lake, or lake tributaries. Brine is not associated with the hydrocarbons in the shallow Berea-Cussewago aquifer system and therefore cannot be a source of brine contamination. A mixing diagram constructed for dissolved bromide and chloride in surface water and water-supply wells shows no demonstrable mixing of these water resources with brine from the Clinton sandstone. There is some notable salinity in surface waters; however, the water is bromide poor, and a mixing diagram indicates that some local ground waters are influenced by halite solutions, presumably derived from leaching of road salt or from septic effluent.


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12/1998