CREATE ReDeveLoP is a program to help graduate (MSc and PhD) students in Geoscience and Engineering gain professional skills training and experience. An undergraduate internship program was launched in May 2019 within ReDeveLoP to help Indigenous BSc students explore graduate study options in these disciplines and the funding available.

Susan, a 2019 BSc graduate of Geology at the University of Calgary, and Joseph, a 2nd-year BSc student of Environmental Science at Mount Royal University, are the first undergraduate interns of the program.

This blog is a window into that experience, to be shared via the Indian Resource Council, the Writing Symbols Lodge, and the Iniskim Centre. Follow Susan and Joe through their rotations of field work, geochemistry, geophysics, petroleum engineering, and even Indigenous Relations Training. Feel free to share this link with your friends in university or high school who might have questions about career paths.

Introducing Susan Machan … I am an Indigenous student from the Tlicho band in the NWT. I just graduated with my BSc from the University of Calgary. I’m the first person in my family to complete a university degree. While in undergrad, I studied hard rock geology, with a focus on ore deposits. This summer will be a good opportunity to learn more about the soft rock geology in the oil and gas industry and to make some decisions about my career path.

Introducing Joe Leadley … I am a Metis student, a husband and a father, with Indigenous ties originating from south Saskatchewan. Born in Taber, AB, I grew up around the petroleum industry. I left high school to work as a driller, and completed my education part-time at night. After the 2013 flood and the economic downturn, particularly in the oil and gas industry, I returned to school. It was a big decision not just for me, but for my family as well. I started by upgrading some high school core courses in 2017 at Mount Royal University to gain eligibility into a BSc degree program. I chose Environmental Science because, with a decade of industry experience, I’d now like to work in remediation. I completed 1st year as a part-time student while I was still employed. I’m looking forward to starting 2nd year as a full-time student undergraduate student for the first time in my life. I’ve posted a couple of photos below; one of the last rig I worked on and one of me at school. This summer, I’m proud to be part of the CREATE ReDeveLoP internship program at the UoC. I’m here because this program is dedicated to collaboration with other universities, industries, government and Indigenous communities, and I think that’s important to our future.

Applied Geochemistry Group August 6-9

August 6: After arriving at Celia’s house in Cochrane in the ridiculously early hour of 5am. We left for Sucker Creek Nation located SW of Slave Lake. Took us about 5-6 hours in total with bathroom breaks included. Trip up there was more or less uneventful except for a bit of heavy rain shortly before Rocky Mountain House. Shortly after arriving there we were greeted by Chief Badger and some area counsel members, and went over a brief plan for both water testing and our meet and greet with local high school students the next day.

After our meet and greet with counsel members we had a brief tour of Sucker Creek’s water treatment plant, and had a brief discussion with operator Ryan Badger on treating techniques. We then went on a bit of a tour of the area with Paulette Campiou, and obtained samples from the treatment lagoon and from Grouard bridge a little NE of Sucker creek. After a long day we then retired for the night at the Peavine Inn in High Prairie.

August 7: We started the day with a meet and greet breakfast with Sucker Creek high school students. We introduced ourselves and gave brief background stories on our lives and education. They in return shared a bit about there future educational plans and interest in what we were doing there.

After our meet and greet we then took a group of students to various sample sites, and gave them a crash course on field sample taking. We then let them do most of the sample taking, hopefully this was engaging for them as well as giving them some insight to what a education in science maybe like.

After spending most of the afternoon taking samples with the help of our little group of students we then headed back to Calgary. Trip home was mostly uneventful, got home around 11pm.

August 8: Began the day by filtering out solids out of gathered water samples taken from Slave Lake. If the samples are not filtered could give false readings and damage lab equipment. Then took both pH and EC readings of samples. We then prepared samples for inorganic and organic analysis in the Total Organic Carbon analyzer or TIC TOC which is what i was told it was referred to. This type of analyzing takes some time to do and wouldn’t have results till the following day.

August 9: Began a spread sheet for my water sample results, with TIC TOC, pH, and temperature readings. Began researching through Canadian standards for drinking water, so that I would have a slight reference for what sample results may or not be showing as far as if the results show any possible signs of contamination.

Applied Geochemistry Group July 29 – August 2

Geochem deptartment office

July 29-30: Met with Dr. Micheal Nightingale, and was shown the different labs associated with geochemistry on the 6th floor. Was then given a introduction to the safety procedures and dress code expectations when in the lab. Was given a brief over view of all the general equipment used for water and gas analyzing within the lab. Shadowed post grad Dylan Riley and learned a bit about mass spectrometry. Also shadowed undergrad Emily Docking and learned a bit about gas chromatography.

Some of the equipment I will be taking up north

July 31: Today was given a project which involves obtaining water samples from Sucker Creek First Nations, by Slave Lake, as they seem to be having issues with there water out there. So today with Micheal’s help I began gathering the equipment which I will need for collecting samples as well as some instruments to do some quick on the spot field tests when I collect the samples. I did a quick search using cartofact software, to see if there maybe any industry related incidents around the Slave Lake region so that i may know what kinds of things to look for in water samples in the area. With that I obtained some papers related to industry contamination and what to look for as well as a couple research papers on general sample analyzing techniques.

Ion liquid chromatography analyzer

August 1: Talked with Micheal a little bit more about my trip up north, and other preparations. Micheal also gave both me and Emily a brief talk on how to both use the Ion liquid chromatographer and how to prepare the samples for analysis. Continued reviewing research papers on water sampling and testing.

August 2: Talked more with Micheal about other water testing methods once I am back from Slave Lake. Made final preparations with Celia in regards to travel and equipment needed.

TOC(Tight Oil Consortium) July 22 – 26

Separated samples based on grain size 10-60 mesh

July 22: Finished preparing next 10 samples, ground down once again with mortar and pestle. Prepared sample cups for XRF use.

July 23: Tested samples using XRF. Then Using a microscope cleaned up samples for use in pycnometer.

He Pycnometer

July 24: Finished testing samples using pycnometer. Then began to gather all my data together from all previous tests to begin populating spread sheets.

July 25: Began getting together the rest of the sample set listed in my project description, as there were 40 listed for testing. Susan Machan would be taking over this same project, this way she could take over where I left off with this project.

July 26: Finished organizing samples, and getting my project notes up to date. In the after noon had a in depth tour of both wet and dry TOC labs with Amin, Susan, and some industry reps.

TOC (Tight Oil Consortium) July 15-19

July 15: Began the fun work of preparing samples even further for use in the XRF(X-ray Florescence), which analysis cutting samples at the electron level to see what the composition element wise is of cuttings. For sample prep, using a pestle and mortar, rock is ground into a fine dust and placed into sample cups for analysis.

July 16: Finished with first 10 samples using pestle and mortar. Finished placing in sample cups. Had Adnan give a brief safety run down of proper XRF operation, as it is technically a hand held X-ray and can cause damage if pointed at a human being.

July 17: Began running samples, the actual testing was quick compared to the actual sample prep. Was taught by Adnan how to down load test results from XRF and started a spread sheet on results.

July 18: Began preparing samples for testing using a pycnometer, which required a bigger grain size for use. All walnut shells and polymer beads had to be removed so that reading would be accurate.

July 19: Spend first have of day testing using pycnometer, which uses hydrogen gas for calculating Grain volume and grain density of samples. Spent rest of the day preparing and separating next 10 samples.

TOC (Tight Oil Consortium) July 8-12

Drill cutting samples for my project

July 8: Today discussed a couple of ideas with Amin for my project, and decided to do a drilling cutting sample analysis as part of a ongoing research project being done by Adnan. Received a copy of the project, and began gathering the samples for analysis for my project.

July 9-12: Began separating samples based on grain size, and cleaning impurities such as walnut shells and polymer beads in samples.

TOC (Tight Oil Consortium) July 2 – 5

July 2: So this week I began working in the TOC (Tight Oil Consortium), whose labs are located in the basement and 2nd floor of the Earth Sciences building on U of C campus. I began my first day by being given a brief tour of the lab and some of the equipment used for various tests conducted on drill cuttings and core samples collected from various wells. Dr. Amin Aghanizadeh then gave me various research papers to review, to give me some background on the type of research which is done here as well as the various ways some of this equipment is incorporated into analysis, which I will learn about in the coming weeks.

July 3: Attended TOC group meeting and learned about some of the research papers that other graduate students were in the process of finalizing and related topics. Researched other papers for the rest of the day associated with some of the main formations that are commonly studied by this lab, such as the Montenay and Duvernay.

Pulse Decay Permeameter

July 4: Today I began my day by shadowing Adnan Younis, who is a grad student who works here. He was working on testing drill cores, with the use of what they call a Pulse Decay Permeameter. This piece of lab equipment can simulate the same conditions which the core was obtained from in the ground, and tests porosity and volume of the core.

SEM microscope(this thing is huge!)

July 5: Did a tour of the SEM(Scanning Electron Microscope) on the 2nd floor, which is used for scanning formation samples at the electron level for analyzing the chemical make up of rocks. Discussed possible project ideas with Amin, and finished the day by reviewing research papers related to the Duvernay formation.

My First Week in the Geophysic (JULY 2-5, 2019)

Earth Science 926 MIC Geophysic lab

I began my rotation in the MIC Geophysics lab on July 3.

July 3, 2019- I joined the Geophysic lab this week and met with Rebecca Salvage a Postdoctoral Associate in Seismology and Naimeh Riazi a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Calgary. We determined that the my project would be a literature review of the two seismic events that happened in Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer Alberta during March 2019 . I would research the seismic history of the two locations and the public perception of the events.

Diagram of withdrawal and injection operations in the oilfield. Blue arrow represents water being injected. Black arrow represents oil, gas or wastewater being withdrawn(Rubinstein & Mahani 2015).

Induced earthquakes are earthquakes caused by human activities such as subsurface fluid injection and/or withdrawal as shown in the above figure.

The 4.6 ML earthquake that occurred near Red Deer happened on March 3,2019 at 5:55am and about 1 km deep.

Earthquake in this region is fairly new and scientific articles have not been published yet for the new seismic activities(R. Schultz, e-mail message, July 17 2019).

Approximate location of the Red Deer earthquake on March 3, 2019(Natural Resource Canada)

Rocky Mountain House experienced a 4.3 ML earthquake with a depth of 10km at 4 in the morning on March 10, 2019.

Approximate location of Rocky Mountain House earthquake March 10, 2019 (Natural Resource Canada).

Rubinstein JL, Mahani AB. Myths and Facts on Wastewater Injection, Hydraulic Fracturing, Enhanced Oil Recovery, and Induced Seismicity. Seismological Research Letters. 2015;86(4):1060–1067. doi:10.1785/0220150067

Geophysics lab June 20-28

June 20: Started to do some background research with the use of AEB website into my upcoming project. Had a brief introductory lesson on the use of Cartofact with Daniel Grunberg, one of the programmers of this GIS software. this kind of software is useful in both planning future and researching past petroleum projects as well as geology information.

June 21: Met with Kelly to plan out both time line and research strategy for doing my project. this included discussing possible information sources, GIS software i could utilize, and geology maps. Began this by contracting the AEB and requesting information on the area and its fracking history, as well as past wells.

Area that this project covers using Cartofact GIS software.

June 24: Went to geologic down town to learn how to try and use there GIS software for both this project and future use. Learned a great deal of how to utilize there layering system for obtaining both well data and geology information. Then spent the rest of the day using there software to try and do more research on my project.

June 25: Began looking at isopach(geology) maps, and obtaining further well data for this project. In the after noon wen to Calgary’s SE industrial area to attend a LNG test site at PTX LNG, to learn about the benefits and applications of liquefied natural gas.

June 26: Began trying to map out what reserves maybe in the duvernay in the Brazeau dam area and what is being produced now and in the past. Most wells in this area are actually being produced from formations higher up than the duvernay. and began to find out that information that i was trying to find was limited.

June 27: Tried to bring what information that i could get together on this project to some kind of conclusion. Thinking that this would take quit a bit more research and mapping to do a proper report.

June 28: Began working on presentation slides for this project as well as concluding that there was more work to be done on this but the research into this would take more that a couple of weeks. Met with Amin Aghanizadeh, who runs the Tight Oil Consortium, for a brief tour of his labs at U of C, as I will be working there starting Monday. Finished the day by coming to what conclusions I could on my project and creating slides.

Week 2 in the Geochemistry lab (JUNE 17-21, 2019)

Me flushing out the sample with helium and monitoring its flow.

Today Mike and I discussed GC Gas Chromatography which is a separation science that takes a complex mixture and break it down into it components.

We first started off the day by manually injecting certified gas standards to see if the machine is properly calibrated.

Water can not get into the GC so a head space is needed. A head space is created in the sample by removing 8mL of solution from the sample and replacing it with helium. Henry’s law is used to recalibrate. The law states that the amount of dissolved gas in a liquid is proportional to its partial pressure above the liquid.

C= kP

C is the solubility of a gas at a fixed temperature in a particular solvent (in units of M or mL gas/L)

k is Henry’s law constant (often in units of M/atm)

Pgas is the partial pressure of the gas (often in units of atm)

The gas runs through 4 different channels. 450GC: hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and H2S, and a fixed gas channel. 456GC: Argon and oxygen. The results should be approximately 100% with a 5% error. The samples each took 7 minutes to run so I had plenty of time to do some readings in between each one.

Friday June 14, 2019- I met with Dr. Pauline Humez who is a research associate at the University of Calgary. We discussed the methane (CH4) formation, mitigation and fate in shallow aquifers. The purpose of her research is to characterize the groundwater resources in Alberta and record their vulnerability to potential contamination from development of unconventional hydrocarbon reservoirs. Migration of fugitive gas into shallow aquifers is viewed as a potential risk associated with the exploitation of coalbed methane and shale gas reservoirs. One challenge/objective is to distinguish for instance between natural in-situ production of methane (biogenic, due to microbial breakdown of organic matter) or methane migration from deep sources due to human activities(thermogenic, due to thermal breakdown of organic matter).

Redox ladder concept. Microbial formation of CH4 can only be produced when the dissolved O2 is consumed, nitrate(NO3-)is removed by denitrification, sulphate(SO4^2-) is reduced

In-situ formation of methane (methanogenesis) in shallow aquifers requires highly reducing conditions consistent with the redox ladder concept (see figure). Hence, analyzing a variety of water chemistry parameters can provide important clues to whether in situ formation of methane within a shallow aquifer is possible. Isotopes analyses on methane ( 𝛿13CCH4; ( 𝛿2HCH4) and other dissolved groundwater constituents such as dissolved inorganic carbon ( 𝛿13CDIC), nitrate ( 𝛿15NNO3, 𝛿18ONO3) and sulfate ( 𝛿18OSO4, 𝛿18OSO4) can provide important additional constraints about redox conditions and methanogenesis processes (CO2 reduction or acetate fermentation) or methane sinks processes such as methane oxidation.

Sample preparation for analyses of sulphur (S) and oxygen (O) isotope ratios of sulfate (SO4): For the water samples I added 5mL of Hydrochloric (HCl) acid and 10mL of Barium Chloride (BaCl2)and 400mL of water sample into a beaker. If the solution becomes cloudy from Barium Sulfate(BaSO4) precipitating then it is evident that the water sample had a significant amount of sulfate and therefore according to the redox ladder concept is not compatible with the presence of elevated concentrations of methane. If the beaker remained clear then it was placed onto a hot plate to let the water evaporates and refill the beaker with water samples (up to a liter) if there is only a little amount of sulfate present (minimum is 4 mg/L of sulphate to form a BaSO4 precipitate). Low/negligible amount of sulfate would thus be favourable with the presence of elevated methane. These “prediction” on occurrence of low or elevated concentrations of methane have been confirmed with the gas compositions analyses performed with the Gas Chromatography (GC) technique.

The BaSO4 precipitates obtained from the different samples were filtered and then dried and stored until the mass spectrometric analyses.

The access S and O isotopes ratios of sulfate will permit to identify the source of sulfate (ex: pyrite oxidation) or if sulfate has been reduced (in case of low sulfate concentrations). Such sulfate reduction could be couple with methane oxidations processes.

Preparation for carbon isotope ratios of DIC (Dissolved Inorganic Carbon) analyses: Vials containing 250 μl phosphoric acid (H2PO3) are first flushed with helium.We monitored the flow and made sure it was near between 70 and 100 mL/min.Then, the water samples are injected into the vials. Such acid conditions will permit to convert the DIC into CO2 gas that will then be analyzed with the mass spectrometric technique. The DIC isotope ratios would permit to identify the source of DIC and processes that have generated or affected DIC. Example very positive 𝛿13CDIC values (> +10 ‰) could be evidence of in situ methane formation.

Unfortunately I couldn’t help her with the rest of the experiment that would look at the isotope content because I was going to be busy that afternoon with Geoscout training.

That afternoon I went downtown to GeoLOGIC to take part in a training session on how to use their GeoSCOUT program.https://www.geologic.com/ GeoSCOUT is an exploration system with many features such as mapping and cross-section tools. It also has software that lets us handle data and analyze. Unfortunately my program kept freezing so I had to watch the demo instead of following along because I had to start over.

Geochemical Resource Characterization of Alberta Groundwater. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://albertainnovates.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Nightingale-Geochem-Characterization-of-AB-Groundwater.pdf

Humez P, Mayer B, Nightingale M, Becker V, Kingston A, Taylor S, Bayegnak G, Millot R, Kloppmann W. Redox controls on methane formation, migration and fate in shallow aquifers. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions. 2016:1–33. doi:10.5194/hess-2016-85