GEOLOGICAL CHARACTERIZATION OF THE BIRDS NEST AQUIFER, UINTA BASIN, UTAH: ASSESSMENT OF THE AQUIFER’S POTENTIAL AS A SALINE WATER DISPOSAL ZONE
by Michael D. Vanden Berg, Danielle R. Lehle, Stephanie M. Carney, and Craig D. Morgan
As petroleum production increases in the Uinta Basin, Utah, operators are pressed to establish
suitable saline water disposal plans. Several natural gas operators have identified the Birds Nest aquifer in central Uintah County as a possible large-scale, saline water disposal zone; however, disposal into this aquifer poses unique challenges and risks. The Birds Nest aquifer formed from the dissolution of saline minerals within a saline zone in the upper Green River Formation’s Parachute Creek Member. Through the examination of core, outcrop, and geophysical logs, we determined that the aquifer is separated into an upper zone, covering about 410 square miles with an average thickness of 79 feet, and a more extensive lower zone, covering about 719 square miles with an average thickness of 84 feet. The fact that the Birds Nest aquifer lies within the Uinta Basin’s oil shale horizon raises questions as to how large-scale, saline water disposal into this zone might impact potential future oil shale development.
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