S24 Quantifying Methane Fluxes over Water in Northeastern PA

Sunday, 6 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Alejandro Manuel Ayala, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA; and K. J. Davis and L. Dennis

The Marcellus Shale, found throughout much of Pennsylvania, has played a key role in driving natural gas production growth in the US. Recently, graduate students studying an area of shale gas development in North-Central Pennsylvania observed methane bubbles and enhanced atmospheric concentrations of methane near a stream in North-Central Pennsylvania. This poses a serious problem to local residents as this CH4 can enhance the threat of fires from potentially explosive levels of CH4. Additionally, CH4 fluxes to the atmosphere from this area are not known, so the threats they pose are also uncertain. This is why it has become crucial to quantify the flux of CH4 into the atmosphere from sources on land, from the surface of the water, and from under the water. Using the Los Gatos Ultra-Portable Gas Analyzer and High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) chambers, we tested different ways to find the most efficient method to deploy a flux chamber over water. We eventually developed a chamber design that performed well during leak tests and we were able to use it at our field site in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania where we measured non-zero fluxes across a 90 meter stretch of the stream Sugar Run. These fluxes changed depending on the location in the stream relative to a given seep. The chamber functioned well under these circumstances, but the upper and lower limits of its performance are still unknown.
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