Hydrogeochemistry signatures of produced waters associated with coalbed methane production in the Southern Junggar Basin, NW China

  • Zheng ZhangEmail author
  • Detian Yan
  • Xinguo Zhuang
  • Shuguang Yang
  • Gang Wang
  • Guoqing Li
  • Xiaoming Wang
Research Article


The Southern Junggar Basin (SJB) in China is an emerging coalbed methane (CBM) development area with abundant low-rank CBM resources. CBM development is accomplished by pumping significant volumes of water from the aquifer, and this water is commonly termed as produced water, which has great utilization values for the water-deficient areas like SJB. Geochemistry signatures are prerequisites in the management of the produced water. Meanwhile, geochemistry surveys of this produced water could also help study the basin hydrogeology and then serve the CBM development. In this study, geochemical compositions of the produced waters, including major ions, stable isotopic compositions, trace elements, and rare earth elements, were analyzed. Results show that produced waters from CBM wells in the SJB are of Na-HCO3 type and have wide total dissolved solid (TDS) ranges from 963 to 11,916 mg/L (avg. 7417 mg/L). Cl, Na+, and HCO3 are the principal determinates of the TDS contents of the produced waters, and their concentrations all increase with greater depth of the produced waters. Overall, the net results of groundwater−aquifer mineral−bacteria interactions with groundwater flowing along the flow path are to deplete Ca2+, Mg2+, and SO42− and increase Na+, Cl, HCO3, and TDS. Stable isotopic values of the CBM produced waters (δDH2O and δ18OH2O) cluster along or below the local meteoric water line (LMWL), and the shift of stable isotopic values to the right side of LMWL was affected by a joint effect of evaporation and mixing with near-surface water. Trace elements that exceed the regulated concentrations for drinking water of China include As, Fe, Mn, Ba, and Ni, among which Ba and Fe need to be most concerned because over 50% of the CBM produced waters exceed the regulated values. Through principal component analysis, the trace element associations in the CBM produced waters and their potential origins were analyzed. The ∑REY concentrations of the CBM produced waters increase exponentially with the increase of pH and present a certain correlation with TDS. The relationship between ∑REY concentrations and TDS reflects different water–rock reaction degrees and hydrogeological backgrounds.


Coalbed methane Produced water Hydrogeochemistry Southern Junggar Basin Low-rank coals 



This work was financially supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41802192), the National Science and Technology Key Special Project of China (No. 2016ZX05043), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of China (No. CUGL170811), and the Open Fund of State Key Laboratory of Water Resource Protection and Utilization in Coal Mining (No. SHJT-17-42.18).


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Zheng Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Detian Yan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xinguo Zhuang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shuguang Yang
    • 4
  • Gang Wang
    • 4
  • Guoqing Li
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Xiaoming Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Tectonics and Petroleum ResourcesChina University of Geosciences, Ministry of EducationWuhanChina
  2. 2.Faculty of Earth ResourcesChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Water Resource Protection and Utilization in Coal MiningBeijingChina
  4. 4.CBM Research & Development CenterXinjiang Coal Field Geology BureauUrumchiChina

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