Tyne Rebecca L.

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Rebecca L.

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  • Article
    Basin architecture controls on the chemical evolution and 4He distribution of groundwater in the Paradox Basin
    (Elsevier, 2022-05-11) Tyne, Rebecca L. ; Barry, Peter H. ; Cheng, Anran ; Hillegonds, Darren ; Kim, Ji-Hyun ; McIntosh, Jennifer C. ; Ballentine, Christopher J.
    Fluids such as 4He, H2, CO2 and hydrocarbons accumulate within Earth's crust. Crustal reservoirs also have potential to store anthropogenic waste (e.g., CO2, spent nuclear fuel). Understanding fluid migration and how this is impacted by basin stratigraphy and evolution is key to exploiting fluid accumulations and identifying viable storage sites. Noble gases are powerful tracers of fluid migration and chemical evolution, as they are inert and only fractionate by physical processes. The distribution of 4He, in particular, is an important tool for understanding diffusion within basins and for groundwater dating. Here, we report noble gas isotope and abundance data from 36 wells across the Paradox Basin, Colorado Plateau, USA, which has abundant hydrocarbon, 4He and CO2 accumulations. Both groundwater and hydrocarbon samples were collected from 7 stratigraphic units, including within, above and below the Paradox Formation (P.Fm) evaporites. Air-corrected helium isotope ratios (0.0046 - 0.127 RA) are consistent with radiogenic overprinting of predominantly groundwater-derived noble gases. The highest radiogenic noble gas concentrations are found in formations below the P.Fm. Atmosphere-derived noble gas signatures are consistent with meteoric recharge and multi-phase interactions both above and below the P.Fm, with greater groundwater-gas interactions in the shallower formations. Vertical diffusion models, used to reconstruct observed groundwater helium concentrations, show the P.Fm evaporite layer to be effectively impermeable to helium diffusion and a regional barrier for mobile elements but, similar to other basins, a basement 4He flux is required to accumulate the 4He concentrations observed beneath the P.Fm. The verification that evaporites are regionally impermeable to diffusion, of even the most diffusive elements, is important for sub-salt helium and hydrogen exploration and storage, and a critical parameter in determining 4He-derived mean groundwater ages. This is critical to understanding the role of basin stratigraphy and deformation on fluid flow and gas accumulation.
  • Article
    Retrieving a “Weather Balloon” from the last Ice Age
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-08-17) Seltzer, Alan M. ; Tyne, Rebecca L.
    “How cold was the last ice age?” is a question that paleoclimate scientists have been trying to answer for decades. Constraining the magnitude of climate change since the Last Glacial Maximum (∼20,000 years ago) can help improve our understanding of Earth's climate sensitivity and, therefore enhance our ability to predict future change (Tierney et al., 2020). Of course, there is no single answer to this question: there is spatial structure to LGM temperature change that is linked to fundamental climate system properties and processes. Consequently, paleoclimate scientists have focused on variations of this question, like “What was the latitudinal gradient of LGM temperature change?” (Chiang et al., 2003), “What was the land-sea contrast?” (Rind & Peteet, 1985) or “What was the change in ocean heat content?” (Bereiter et al., 2018). These questions inform large-scale atmospheric and oceanic circulation, the intensity of the water cycle, and planetary energy balance; the answers to these questions come from proxies like planktic and benthic foraminifera, speleothems, ice cores, pollen records, ancient groundwater, lake sediments, and glacial moraines, to name a few. In short, the paleoclimate community has developed a proxy “tool kit” equipped to map changes across the Earth's surface and into the ocean interior; but, until now, no “tool” existed for the upper atmosphere.
  • Article
    Krypton-81 dating constrains timing of deep groundwater flow activation
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-06-06) Kim, Ji-Hyun ; Ferguson, Grant ; Person, Mark ; Jiang, Wei ; Lu, Zheng-Tian ; Ritterbusch, Florian ; Yang, Guo-Min ; Tyne, Rebecca L. ; Bailey, Lydia R. ; Ballentine, Christopher J. ; Reiners, Peter ; McIntosh, Jennifer C.
    Krypton-81 dating provides new insights into the timing, mechanisms, and extent of meteoric flushing versus retention of saline fluids in the subsurface in response to changes in geologic and/or climatic forcings over 50 ka to 1.2 Ma year timescales. Remnant Paleozoic seawater-derived brines associated with evaporites in the Paradox Basin, Colorado Plateau, are beyond the 81Kr dating range (>1.2 Ma) and have likely been preserved due to negative fluid buoyancy and low permeability. 81Kr dating of formation waters above the evaporites indicates topographically-driven meteoric recharge and salt dissolution since the Late Pleistocene (0.03–0.8 Ma). Formation waters below the evaporites (up to 3 km depth), in basal aquifers, contain relatively young meteoric water components (0.4–1.1 Ma based on 81Kr) that partially flushed remnant brines and dissolved evaporites. We demonstrate that recent, rapid denudation of the Colorado Plateau (<4–10 Ma) activated deep, basinal-scale flow systems as recorded in 81Kr groundwater age distributions.
  • Article
    A novel method for the extraction, purification, and characterization of noble gases in produced fluids
    (Wiley, 2019-10-14) Tyne, Rebecca L. ; Barry, Peter H. ; Hillegonds, Darren ; Hunt, Andrew G. ; Kulongoski, Justin T. ; Stephens, Michael J. ; Byrne, David J. ; Ballentine, Christopher J.
    Hydrocarbon systems with declining or viscous oil production are often stimulated using enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques, such as the injection of water, steam, and CO2, in order to increase oil and gas production. As EOR and other methods of enhancing production such as hydraulic fracturing have become more prevalent, environmental concerns about the impact of both new and historical hydrocarbon production on overlying shallow aquifers have increased. Noble gas isotopes are powerful tracers of subsurface fluid provenance and can be used to understand the impact of EOR on hydrocarbon systems and potentially overlying aquifers. In oil systems, produced fluids can consist of a mixture of oil, water and gas. Noble gases are typically measured in the gas phase; however, it is not always possible to collect gases and therefore produced fluids (which are water, oil, and gas mixtures) must be analyzed. We outline a new technique to separate and analyze noble gases in multiphase hydrocarbon‐associated fluid samples. An offline double capillary method has been developed to quantitatively isolate noble gases into a transfer vessel, while effectively removing all water, oil, and less volatile hydrocarbons. The gases are then cleaned and analyzed using standard techniques. Air‐saturated water reference materials (n = 24) were analyzed and results show a method reproducibility of 2.9% for 4He, 3.8% for 20Ne, 4.5% for 36Ar, 5 .3% for 84Kr, and 5.7% for 132Xe. This new technique was used to measure the noble gas isotopic compositions in six produced fluid samples from the Fruitvale Oil Field, Bakersfield, California.
  • Article
    Occurrence and sources of radium in groundwater associated with oil fields in the southern San Joaquin Valley, California
    (American Chemical Society, 2019-08-07) McMahon, Peter B. ; Vengosh, Avner ; Davis, Tracy A. ; Landon, Matthew K. ; Tyne, Rebecca L. ; Wright, Michael T. ; Kulongoski, Justin T. ; Hunt, Andrew G. ; Barry, Peter H. ; Kondash, Andrew J. ; Wang, Zhen ; Ballentine, Christopher J.
    Geochemical data from 40 water wells were used to examine the occurrence and sources of radium (Ra) in groundwater associated with three oil fields in California (Fruitvale, Lost Hills, South Belridge). 226Ra+228Ra activities (range = 0.010–0.51 Bq/L) exceeded the 0.185 Bq/L drinking-water standard in 18% of the wells (not drinking-water wells). Radium activities were correlated with TDS concentrations (p < 0.001, ρ = 0.90, range = 145–15,900 mg/L), Mn + Fe concentrations (p < 0.001, ρ = 0.82, range = <0.005–18.5 mg/L), and pH (p < 0.001, ρ = −0.67, range = 6.2–9.2), indicating Ra in groundwater was influenced by salinity, redox, and pH. Ra-rich groundwater was mixed with up to 45% oil-field water at some locations, primarily infiltrating through unlined disposal ponds, based on Cl, Li, noble-gas, and other data. Yet 228Ra/226Ra ratios in pond-impacted groundwater (median = 3.1) differed from those in oil-field water (median = 0.51). PHREEQC mixing calculations and spatial geochemical variations suggest that the Ra in the oil-field water was removed by coprecipitation with secondary barite and adsorption on Mn–Fe precipitates in the near-pond environment. The saline, organic-rich oil-field water subsequently mobilized Ra from downgradient aquifer sediments via Ra-desorption and Mn/Fe-reduction processes. This study demonstrates that infiltration of oil-field water may leach Ra into groundwater by changing salinity and redox conditions in the subsurface rather than by mixing with a high-Ra source.
  • Article
    Rapid microbial methanogenesis during CO2 storage in hydrocarbon reservoirs
    (Nature Research, 2021-12-22) Tyne, Rebecca L. ; Barry, Peter H. ; Lawson, Michael ; Byrne, David J. ; Warr, Oliver ; Xie, Hao ; Hillegonds, Darren ; Formolo, Michael ; Summers, Zara M. ; Skinner, Brandon ; Eiler, John M. ; Ballentine, Christopher J.
    Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a key technology to mitigate the environmental impact of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. An understanding of the potential trapping and storage mechanisms is required to provide confidence in safe and secure CO2 geological sequestration1,2. Depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs have substantial CO2 storage potential1,3, and numerous hydrocarbon reservoirs have undergone CO2 injection as a means of enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR), providing an opportunity to evaluate the (bio)geochemical behaviour of injected carbon. Here we present noble gas, stable isotope, clumped isotope and gene-sequencing analyses from a CO2-EOR project in the Olla Field (Louisiana, USA). We show that microbial methanogenesis converted as much as 13–19% of the injected CO2 to methane (CH4) and up to an additional 74% of CO2 was dissolved in the groundwater. We calculate an in situ microbial methanogenesis rate from within a natural system of 73–109 millimoles of CH4 per cubic metre (standard temperature and pressure) per year for the Olla Field. Similar geochemical trends in both injected and natural CO2 fields suggest that microbial methanogenesis may be an important subsurface sink of CO2 globally. For CO2 sequestration sites within the environmental window for microbial methanogenesis, conversion to CH4 should be considered in site selection.
  • Article
    Noble gas signatures constrain oil-field water as the carrier phase of hydrocarbons occurring in shallow aquifers in the San Joaquin Basin, USA
    (Elsevier, 2021-08-18) Karolytė, Rūta ; Barry, Peter H. ; Hunt, Andrew G. ; Kulongoski, Justin T. ; Tyne, Rebecca L. ; Davis, Tracy A. ; Wright, Michael T. ; McMahon, Peter B. ; Ballentine, Christopher J.
    Noble gases record fluid interactions in multiphase subsurface environments through fractionation processes during fluid equilibration. Water in the presence of hydrocarbons at the subsurface acquires a distinct elemental signature due to the difference in solubility between these two fluids. We find the atmospheric noble gas signature in produced water is partially preserved after hydrocarbons production and water disposal to unlined ponds at the surface. This signature is distinct from meteoric water and can be used to trace oil-field water seepage into groundwater aquifers. We analyse groundwater (n = 30) and fluid disposal pond (n = 2) samples from areas overlying or adjacent to the Fruitvale, Lost Hills, and South Belridge Oil Fields in the San Joaquin Basin, California, USA. Methane (2.8 × 10−7 to 3 × 10−2 cm3 STP/cm3) was detected in 27 of 30 groundwater samples. Using atmospheric noble gas signatures, the presence of oil-field water was identified in 3 samples, which had equilibrated with thermogenic hydrocarbons in the reservoir. Two (of the three) samples also had a shallow microbial methane component, acquired when produced water was deposited in a disposal pond at the surface. An additional 6 samples contained benzene and toluene, indicative of interaction with oil-field water; however, the noble gas signatures of these samples are not anomalous. Based on low tritium and 14C contents (≤ 0.3 TU and 0.87–6.9 pcm, respectively), the source of oil-field water is likely deep, which could include both anthropogenic and natural processes. Incorporating noble gas analytical techniques into the groundwater monitoring programme allows us to 1) differentiate between thermogenic and microbial hydrocarbon gas sources in instances when methane isotope data are unavailable, 2) identify the carrier phase of oil-field constituents in the aquifer (gas, oil-field water, or a combination), and 3) differentiate between leakage from a surface source (disposal ponds) and from the hydrocarbon reservoir (either along natural or anthropogenic pathways such as faulty wells).
  • Article
    Dissolved gases in the deep North Atlantic track ocean ventilation processes
    (National Academy of Sciences, 2023-03-14) Seltzer, Alan M. ; Nicholson, David P. ; Smethie, William M. ; Tyne, Rebecca L. ; Le Roy, Emilie ; Stanley, Rachel H. R. ; Stute, Martin ; Barry, Peter H. ; McPaul, Katelyn ; Davidson, Perrin W. ; Chang, Bonnie X. ; Rafter, Patrick A. ; Lethaby, Paul ; Johnson, Rod J. ; Khatiwala, Samar ; Jenkins, William J.
    Gas exchange between the atmosphere and ocean interior profoundly impacts global climate and biogeochemistry. However, our understanding of the relevant physical processes remains limited by a scarcity of direct observations. Dissolved noble gases in the deep ocean are powerful tracers of physical air-sea interaction due to their chemical and biological inertness, yet their isotope ratios have remained underexplored. Here, we present high-precision noble gas isotope and elemental ratios from the deep North Atlantic (~32°N, 64°W) to evaluate gas exchange parameterizations using an ocean circulation model. The unprecedented precision of these data reveal deep-ocean undersaturation of heavy noble gases and isotopes resulting from cooling-driven air-to-sea gas transport associated with deep convection in the northern high latitudes. Our data also imply an underappreciated and large role for bubble-mediated gas exchange in the global air-sea transfer of sparingly soluble gases, including O, N, and SF. Using noble gases to validate the physical representation of air-sea gas exchange in a model also provides a unique opportunity to distinguish physical from biogeochemical signals. As a case study, we compare dissolved N/Ar measurements in the deep North Atlantic to physics-only model predictions, revealing excess N from benthic denitrification in older deep waters (below 2.9 km). These data indicate that the rate of fixed N removal in the deep Northeastern Atlantic is at least three times higher than the global deep-ocean mean, suggesting tight coupling with organic carbon export and raising potential future implications for the marine N cycle.
  • Article
    Investigating the effect of enhanced oil recovery on the noble gas signature of casing gases and produced waters from selected California oil fields
    (Elsevier, 2021-09-25) Tyne, Rebecca L. ; Barry, Peter H. ; Karolytė, Rūta ; Byrne, David J. ; Kulongoski, Justin T. ; Hillegonds, Darren ; Ballentine, Christopher J.
    In regions where water resources are scarce and in high demand, it is important to safeguard against contamination of groundwater aquifers by oil-field fluids (water, gas, oil). In this context, the geochemical characterisation of these fluids is critical so that anthropogenic contaminants can be readily identified. The first step is characterising pre-development geochemical fluid signatures (i.e., those unmodified by hydrocarbon resource development) and understanding how these signatures may have been perturbed by resource production, particularly in the context of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques. Here, we present noble gas isotope data in fluids produced from oil wells in several water-stressed regions in California, USA, where EOR is prevalent. In oil-field systems, only casing gases are typically collected and measured for their noble gas compositions, even when oil and/or water phases are present, due to the relative ease of gas analyses. However, this approach relies on a number of assumptions (e.g., equilibrium between phases, water-to-oil ratio (WOR) and gas-to-oil ratio (GOR) in order to reconstruct the multiphase subsurface compositions. Here, we adopt a novel, more rigorous approach, and measure noble gases in both casing gas and produced fluid (oil-water-gas mixtures) samples from the Lost Hills, Fruitvale, North and South Belridge (San Joaquin Basin, SJB) and Orcutt (Santa Maria Basin) Oil Fields. Using this method, we are able to fully characterise the distribution of noble gases within a multiphase hydrocarbon system. We find that measured concentrations in the casing gases agree with those in the gas phase in the produced fluids and thus the two sample types can be used essentially interchangeably. EOR signatures can readily be identified by their distinct air-derived noble gas elemental ratios (e.g., 20Ne/36Ar), which are elevated compared to pre-development oil-field fluids, and conspicuously trend towards air values with respect to elemental ratios and overall concentrations. We reconstruct reservoir 20Ne/36Ar values using both casing gas and produced fluids and show that noble gas ratios in the reservoir are strongly correlated (r2 = 0.88–0.98) to the amount of water injected within ~500 m of a well. We suggest that the 20Ne/36Ar increase resulting from injection is sensitive to the volume of fluid interacting with the injectate, the effective water-to-oil ratio, and the composition of the injectate. Defining both the pre-development and injection-modified hydrocarbon reservoir compositions are crucial for distinguishing the sources of hydrocarbons observed in proximal groundwaters, and for quantifying the transport mechanisms controlling this occurrence.