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Microbial generation of economic accumulations of methane within a shallow organic-rich shale

Nature volume 383, pages 155158 (12 September 1996) | Download Citation

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Abstract

ALTHOUGH methane of bacterial origin is ubiquitous in marine and freshwater sediments, economic accumulations of bacterial gases occur mainly at depths of several kilometres in Tertiary basins that had high sedimentation rates1,2. Here we present an integration of geochemical and isotopic data from gas and water extracted from the Upper Devonian Antrim shale, along the northern margin of the Michigan basin, which demonstrates that significant volumes of bacterial gas have been generated in organic-rich shales at depths of less than 600 metres. The Antrim shale is mainly a self-sourced reservoir, in contrast to conventional gas deposits that have migrated from a source to a reservoir, and has become one of the most actively exploited gas reservoirs3 in the United States. The gas-forming processes operating at shallow depths in the Antrim shale are not unique4, and an understanding of these processes should lead to the identification and development of other economic, non-conventional gas deposits around the world.

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Affiliations

  1. Department of Geological Sciences, University of Michigan, 2534 C C Little Building, 425 East University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109–1063, USA

    • Anna M. Martini
    • , Joyce M. Budai
    •  & Lynn M. Walter
  2. Chevron Petroleum Technology Company, 1300 Beach Boulevard, La Habra, California 90631, USA

    • Martin Schoell

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https://doi.org/10.1038/383155a0

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