Compositional Analysis of Formation Water Geochemistry and Microbiology of Commercial and Carbon Dioxide-Rich Wells in the Southwestern United States

Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5037
By: , and 



Studies of naturally occurring subsurface carbon dioxide (CO2) accumulations can provide useful information for potential CO2 injection projects; however, the microbial communities and formation water geochemistry of most reservoirs are understudied. Formation water and microbial biomass were sampled at four CO2-rich reservoir sites: two within Bravo Dome, a commercial CO2 field in New Mexico; one northwest of Bravo Dome in Colorado (Oakdale Field); and one southwest of Bravo Dome in New Mexico (Rafter “K” Ranch). Aside from the Rafter “K” Ranch site, minor differences were observed in the geochemistry of formation water collected from these sites compared to historical data. No organisms were significantly associated with Oakdale Field compared to the other three sites, nor were any hydrogeochemical or gas geochemical parameters (for example, CO2 concentration) found to have significant associations with the microbial ecology of these four sites. Microorganisms from these sites were metabolically diverse and had the potential to (1) generate methane, (2) produce corrosive hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and (3) rapidly biofoul and (or) clog pore spaces by shifting microbial communities with changes in salinity or nutrient supply. This study demonstrates that high concentrations of CO2 in subsurface reservoirs apparently have not imparted a distinct geochemical or microbiological signature on the associated formation waters and that the microorganisms in these reservoirs are metabolically diverse and could adapt to geochemical changes in the subsurface.

Suggested Citation

Shelton, J.L., Andrews, R.S., Akob, D.M., DeVera, C.A., Mumford, A.C., Engle, M., Plampin, M.R., and Brennan, S.T., 2020, Compositional analysis of formation water geochemistry and microbiology of commercial and carbon dioxide-rich wells in the southwestern United States: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2020–5037, 26 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Background and Study Sites
  • Methods
  • Produced Fluid Geochemistry
  • Microbial Community Composition and Diversity
  • Growth and Activity of Microbial Functional Groups in the Rafter “K” Ranch and Oakdale Field Samples
  • Conclusions
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Compositional analysis of formation water geochemistry and microbiology of commercial and carbon dioxide-rich wells in the southwestern United States
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2020-5037
DOI 10.3133/sir20205037
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Eastern Energy Resources Science Center
Description viii, 26 p.
Country United States
State Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details