Fugitive Gas Migration in the Vadose Zone at an Experimental Field Site in the Montney Shale Gas Region

Olenka N. Forde*, Aaron G. Cahill, Bernhard Mayer, Roger D. Beckie, K. Ulrich Mayer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Fugitive gas migration (GM) from compromised oil and gas wells remains a global concern. To understand environmental impacts from GM there is a need to characterize the transport and fate of fugitive gas in the vadose zone. We simulated subsurface wellbore leakage by injecting natural gas into thick unsaturated glacio-lacustrine deposits in a region of petroleum development in Western Canada. Methane and carbon dioxide effluxes were monitored and soil-gas samples were collected for molecular and stable carbon isotope analyses. A conceptual model was developed to demonstrate the physical and biogeochemical processes that control the spatial-temporal variability of GM. Methane oxidation partially attenuated natural gas; however, gas transport and fate were strongly influenced by variations in grain-size distribution and barometric pressure, resulting in episodic effluxes and lateral gas transport. To accurately detect, quantify and assess GM at oil and gas sites, adequate site characterization and continuous, spatially dense monitoring are necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022GL098762
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number15
Early online date4 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2022


  • barometric-pressure changes
  • effluxes
  • fugitive gas
  • gas migration
  • methane
  • methane oxidation
  • oil and gas development
  • soil gas
  • vadose zone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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