Stephen E. Grasby


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The Persistence of Brines in Sedimentary Basins
Grant Ferguson, Jennifer C. McIntosh, Stephen E. Grasby, M. Jim Hendry, Scott Jasechko, Matthew B.J. Lindsay, Elco Luijendijk
Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 45, Issue 10

Brines are commonly found at depth in sedimentary basins. Many of these brines are known to be connate waters that have persisted since the early Paleozoic Era. Yet questions remain about their distribution and mechanisms for retention at depth in the Earth's crust. Here we demonstrate that there is insufficient topography to drive these dense fluids from the bottom of deep sedimentary basins. Our assessment based on driving force ratio indicates that sedimentary basins with driving force ratio > 1 contain connate waters and frequently host large evaporite deposits. These stagnant conditions appear to be relatively stable over geological time and insensitive to factors such as glaciations, erosion, compaction, and hydrocarbon generation.

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Salt dissolution and permeability in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin
Blake Woroniuk, Kristl Tipton, Stephen E. Grasby, Jennifer C. McIntosh, Grant Ferguson
Hydrogeology Journal, Volume 27, Issue 1

Extensive dissolution of evaporites has occurred in the Williston Basin, Canada, but it is unclear what effect this has had on bulk permeability. The bulk of this dissolution has occurred from the Prairie Evaporite Formation, which is predominantly halite and potash. However, minor evaporite beds and porosity infilling have also been removed from the overlying Dawson Bay and Souris River formations, which are predominantly carbonates. This study examines whether permeability values in the Dawson Bay and Souris River formations have been affected by dissolution, by analyzing 142 drillstem tests from those formations. For both the Dawson Bay and Souris River formations, the highest permeabilities were found in areas where halite dissolution had occurred. However, the mean permeabilities were not statistically different in areas of halite dissolution compared to those containing connate water. Subsequent precipitation of anhydrite is known to have clogged pore spaces and fractures in some instances. Geochemical relationships found here support this idea but there is no statistically significant relationship between anhydrite saturation and permeability. Geomechanical effects, notably closure of fractures due to collapse, could be a mitigating factor. The results indicate that coupling dissolution and precipitation to changes in permeability in regional flow models remains a significant challenge.