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International Journal of Coal Geology 86 (2011) 157168

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International Journal of Coal Geology

j o u r n a l h o m e p a g e : w w w. e l s ev i e r. c o m / l o c a t e / i j c o a l g e o

The occurrence of a secondary zone of coal-bed methane in the southern part of the Upper Silesian Coal Basin (southern Poland): Potential for methane exploitation
Sawomir Kdzior
University of Silesia, Faculty of Earth Sciences, Bdziska 60, 41-200 Sosnowiec, Poland

a r t i c l e

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
Coal-bed methane (CBM) exploitation in the Upper Silesian Coal Basin has, in spite of earlier failures, again aroused investor interest. Carboniferous coal seams at depths of 200500 m are characterized by coal permeability values (estimated at 27230 mD) and degrees of methane saturation (almost 100%) that suggest future successful exploitation. Based on the results of geological surveys archived in the Polish Geological Institute, the shallow CBM zone is dened as a gas horizon distinct from a deep CBM zone. The disposition of the shallow zone follows the topography of the Upper Carboniferous paleorelief, and, is deemed the most important factor controlling methane distribution within this zone. The most favorable places for CBM accumulation within the shallow coal seams are erosional highs and the slopes of Upper Carboniferous ridges associated with fault zones. The thickness of the zone (N 200 m) and methane contents (N 8 m3/t coal daf) are highest in these places. The nearly-full saturation of the coal seams with methane reects the involvement of two genetic types of gas indigenous late-stage microbial methane and thermogenic methane derived from the deeper coals. The favorable geological characteristic of this shallow CBM zone is a potential source of energy for Upper Silesia. 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Article history: Received 8 April 2010 Received in revised form 11 January 2011 Accepted 12 January 2011 Available online 21 January 2011 Keywords: Coal-bed methane Carboniferous roof Geological structure Coal permeability Gas fuel Upper Silesian Coal Basin

1. Introduction A shallow zone of secondary coal-bed methane (CBM) in uppermost-Carboniferous coal seams occurs at depths from 200 to 500 m in the southern part of the Upper Silesian Coal Basin (USCB). An overlying hermetic cover of Miocene claystones and mudstones facilitates gas concentration in these seams. Recently, this zone has become the subject of attention by investors interested in exploiting the methane. The secondary accumulation appears to offer better prospects for CBM production than deeper-lying coal seams. Attempts to recover gas from the deeper seams a decade ago were unsuccessful (Kdzior, 2009b). In October 2006, the Ministry of Environment granted Euro-Energy Resources Inc. a concession to explore and evaluate the occurrence of CBM within the USCB Main Syncline (Kdzior et al., 2007). The possibility of recovering CBM through surface boreholes from shallow coal prompted the present study of the secondary zone as an autonomous CBM horizon independent of the deep (primary) methane zone described by many (e.g., Borowski, 1968; Kdzior, 2009b; Kotarba et al., 1995; Kotas, 1994; Kwarciski and Hadro, 2008; Niemczyk, 1984; Tarnowski, 1989). This paper analyzes the present-day distribution of methane in the shallow Carboniferous coal seams in relation to

geological setting and coal parameters, e.g., permeability, that would inuence CBM borehole production. The area in question is situated in the southern part of the USCB between the cities Pawowice to the west and Pszczyna to the east. It includes the undeveloped coal deposits of Pawowice, Warszowice Pawowice and the southern part of KobirPszczyna (Fig. 1). It lies within the southern ank of the Main Syncline between two large regional fault zones those of Jawiszowice to the north and BzieCzechowice to the south (Fig. 1). The Carpathian thrust is 1020 km further to the south. 2. The geological context and methane content 2.1. Lithostratigraphy The main elements of the geology of the area are the Carboniferous coal-bearing strata, Miocene strata and Quaternary sediments. The Carboniferous sequence includes several lithostratigraphical series (Fig. 2), the most important of which is the Mudstone Series (Lower Pennsylvanian Westphalian A and B) with a thickness reaching N 1300 m (Bua and Kotas, 1994). Towards the east, the Cracow Sandstone Series (Middle Pennsylvanian Westphalian B and C) appears at the top. Clays of the Miocene Skawina Formation discordantly overlying the coal-bearing strata within the entire area are molasse of the Carpathian Foredeep. The thickness of these strata varies from ca 200 m to the north to b 700 m to the south in the area. The Quaternary sediments are comprised of glacial and uvio-glacial deposits that are thickest in river valleys.

Tel.: + 48 32 36 89 371. E-mail address: 0166-5162/$ see front matter 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.coal.2011.01.003


S. Kdzior / International Journal of Coal Geology 86 (2011) 157168

Fig. 1. Location of the study area in the southern part of the USCB. 1 the boundaries of the area, 2 main city, 3 aziska Sandstones, 4 Mudstone Series, 5 regional faults.

2.2. Tectonics The area of interest is located within the disjunctive part of the USCB in which the two regional fault zones of Jawiszowice and BzieCzechowice are the most important tectonic elements (Fig. 1). Both dislocations are of large size with throws of several hundred meters in a southerly direction, which commonly divide into several fault surfaces. They are probably of Variscan age but were reactivated in the Miocene due to Alpine folding (Teper and Sagan, 1995). Apart from these, there are many smaller faults trending SWNE which, with others orthogonal to them, build a system of tectonic blocks of diverse sizes. The disposition of the blocks is not

accurately dened as the only geological constraints are from borehole data. The dip of the Carboniferous beds is low several degrees to the north and north-east. Only in the vicinity of the main dislocations does the dip locally increase to b 40 degrees.

2.3. The Carboniferous erosion surface The varied topography of Carboniferous surface is a key feature of the area (Fig. 3). Ridge-like elevations and valley depressions

Fig. 2. Simplied lithostratigraphic division of the Carboniferous rocks. Modied after Bua and Kotas, 1994; Kandarachevov et al., 2009; Kdzior, 2009b with series description after Kotas, 1995.

S. Kdzior / International Journal of Coal Geology 86 (2011) 157168


Fig. 3. The topography of the Carboniferous erosion surface. 1 main faults, 2 borehole, 3 elevation of the Carboniferous erosion surface (m above sea level). Source: Archive of the Polish Geological Institute.

constitute a latitudinal system coincident with the direction of the main faults (Bogacz et al., 1984; Bua et al., 2007; Jura, 2001). The most important morphological elements of this erosion surface are (Jura, 2001): the ory ridge of varied topography located close to the Jawiszowice Fault Zone. the Pawowice Ridge is the most important morphological element in the area. In contrast to the gentle north slope of this ridge, the southern slope is steep and characterized by numerous small valleys. Moreover, the ridge constitutes a morphological feature of N 500 m relative height which coincides with the surface of the BzieCzechowice Fault Zone (Fig. 3). The asymmetric Strumie Valley which runs parallel to the Bzie Czechowice dislocation and the Pawowice ridge to the south. These varied features reect long-term pre-Miocene differential erosion of the Carboniferous strata and differences in their resistance to erosion (e. g. Bua et al., 2007). The possible role of Pre-Miocene tectonic movements that contributed to the formation of the Carpathian Foredeep, cannot be discounted. 2.4. Coal rank and maceral composition High- and medium volatile bituminous coals dominate in the area (ASTM D Standard Classication of Coals by Rank) and the coal rank decreases towards the east. The vitrinite reectance (Ro) decreases from 1.0 to 1.5% in the WarszowicePawowice area to 0.81.0% around KobirPszczyna (Jurczak-Drabek, 1996). The average caloric value for the coal is 26 MJ/kg (Kotas et al., 1983).

Vitrinite group macerals predominate (7080%) in coal seams hosted in the Mudstone Series. In seams within the Upper Silesian Sandstone Series, the proportion of inertinite group macerals increases from ~ 1015% to ~ 3040%. Liptinite group macerals rarely exceed 10% and decrease to zero with depth.

2.5. Hydrogeology The aquifers in the area occur within permeable sandstones and conglomerates isolated from each other by impermeable mudstones and claystones. In the coal-bearing Carboniferous strata, the most water-rich are the aziska Sandstones of the Cracow Sandstone Series and the Ruda and Saddle Sandstones of the Upper Silesian Sandstone Series. The aziska Sandstones, with a limited thickness b 200 m and occurring only in the KobirPszczyna area have a ltration coefcient of ca 106 to 104 m/s (Rkowski, 1991). For the sandstones of the Upper Silesian Sandstone Series, comprising 5075% of the thickness of the Series, the coefcient is 105 m/s (Rkowski, 1991). The Carboniferous Mudstone Series is a monotonous complex of impermeable claystones in which small waterbearing horizons within sandstone inserts display high pressures in many cases. In the Miocene sediments, those with water are exclusively sandy inserts with ltration coefcients of ~8.0 108 to 2.4 106 m/s in the impermeable clays of the Skawina Formation. The waters in Carboniferous and Miocene hosts are weakly mineralized (HCO3ClSO4Na or SO4HCO3Na) to depths of b 200300 m. Salinity increases rapidly below that depth (Kdzior, 2009b). The deep waters are considered to reect the inltration of Miocene sea water and of meteoric waters into then-exposed Carboniferous rocks (Pluta and Zuber, 1995).


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Inltration of meteoric waters into the Carboniferous rocks ceased with the deposition of the impermeable Miocene cover. Relict waters trapped in the sandy inserts in the Miocene clays are also sealed. 2.6. Methane occurrence The study area is characterized by high- and variable CBM contents. Other rocks (e.g., sandstones) also contain methane. In coal seams, the methane primarily occurs as sorbed methane mainly in coal micropores (e.g. Lamberson and Bustin, 1993). Free methane, in much lesser quantity, lls macropores and fractures in both coal and sandstones, which is typical for conventional, natural gas deposits. The spatial distribution of CBM in the coal series was shaped by preMiocene burial and uplift processes (Kdzior, 2009b). Uplift of the coal series after late-Carboniferous times led to the erosion of the upper part of the series and facilitated the inltration of meteoric waters. The resulting deep degasication involved only the upper few hundred meters of rock though, in places, it extended down to N 1000 m depending on local lithology and structural conditions (Kotarba and Ney, 1995). Later, migrating methane would be trapped in the degassed coal seams and sandstones under the impermeable Miocene cover, which is the case in the southern part of the USCB. The present-day distribution of coal-bed methane within the area includes (Fig. 4): a shallow zone of high methane content (b 4.520 m3/t coal daf) in coal and other rocks with a typical thickness b ca 250 m holding late-stage secondary methane. an intermediate zone of decreasing methane content (ca 1 m3/t coal daf). a deep primary zone of high methane content (N 4.5 to 1020 m3/t coal daf) which is thicker and more extensive than the shallow zone,

the maximum depth of this zone is not fully dened but locally extends below 1500 m. In some boreholes, the shallow secondary zone is signicantly thicker than 250 m and in some cases, it links up with the deep primary zone (Fig. 5). Where this happens, the entire Carboniferous prole is methane-enriched. Methane also occurs in sandstones lying at the Miocene and Carboniferous boundary within weathered Carboniferous rocks and in the Miocene strata. The methane occurring in the deep primary zone is considered to be thermogenic (e.g., Kotarba, 2001). The methane in the shallow zone might have migrated from deeper-lying coals (e.g., Hemza et al., 2009; Kotarba et al., 1995) or it might be secondary, late-stage microbial methane produced by archaebacteria (Kotarba and Pluta, 2009) or both. In general, the area is characterized by high gas contents that commonly exceed 4.5 m3/t coal daf. In the shallow zone, the predominant gas is methane (N 8090%), typically accompanied by ethane (ca 1% and more depending on depth). In the primary zone, propane (12%) appears below a depth of 1000 m. Within the intermediate zone of decreasing methane content, the amount of nitrogen in the gas increases. Methane predominance improves the quality of the gas as a fuel. Almost all working coal mines in the area (e.g., BrzeszczeSilesia, Krupiski, Pniwek and Zowka mines) are among the most gas-rich mines in the USCB. Methods of methane production and utilization are updated continuously. During 19972006, seven mines collected N 1.5 billion m3 of coal-mine methane (CMM), almost 1.2 billion m3 of which was used as a local fuel and the remainder vented into the atmosphere (Kdzior, 2009a). 3. Processes involved in the development of CBM zones and sorption capacity of coal 3.1. Methane origin The methane in the coal bearing formations originated from the coal seams and from the type III dispersed organic matter in other rocks (e.g., Jasper et al., 2009; Kotarba, 2001; Semyrka et al., 1995). Methane (microbial) can also be generated by archaebacteria introduced by meteoric waters (e.g. Flores, 2008; Kotarba and Pluta, 2009). In the USCB, as in other basins (e.g., Wei et al., 2007), the generation of the methane was probably a multi-stage process (e.g., Kdzior, 2009b). Initially, the methane, higher gaseous hydrocarbons (C2 to C5) and carbon dioxide in the coal-bed gasses were generated during the bituminous stage of coalication that lasted no longer than several Ma and was completed by the end of the Variscan orogeny (Kotarba, 2001).

Fig. 4. Variation in coal-bed methane contents with depth. daf dry ash-free. Modied after Kotas, 1994.

Fig. 5. An example of the shallow CBM zone linking with the deep primary zone. G methane content, h elevation. Source: Archive of the Polish Geological Institute.

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Some authors (e.g., Kotas, 1990) have proposed that heat ow extended the coalication process into the Mesozoic or Paleogene. Today, these gasses occur in the primary methane zone at a depth N 1000 m. Vitrinite reectance data (1.51.7%) shows that the coal seams attained the gas window stage of thermal maturity and were able to generate methane and other coalbed gasses. Another stage of methane generation occurred shortly before or early in the Miocene when the coal-bearing Pennsylvanian strata was exposed and subjected to weathering and erosion (Kdzior, 2009b). Those conditions facilitated their inltration by meteoric waters along with methanogens and nutrients, required for methane-producing bacteria and other gas-producing organisms (Kotarba and Pluta, 2009). Isotopic studies on the coal-bed gasses of shallow-zone (Kotarba and Pluta, 2009) show that coal-bed gasses with 13C ranging about 70 occur to a depth of 200 m within the Pennsylvanian strata, and that the gasses predominate in the shallow CBM zone. Only thermogenic gasses occur in the primary CBM zone below a depth of ca 650 m (Kdzior, 2009b; Kotarba and Pluta, 2009). Therefore, there is evidence indicating that methane in the shallow CBM zone was generated by bacteria in or about Miocene times. This origin would match that of gasses occurring in other coal basins (e.g., Aravena et al., 2003; Flores, 2008) or that of conventional natural gas in the Polish part of the Carpathian Foredeep (e.g., Kotarba, 1999). The shallow- and deep CBM zones are clearly separated by the methane minimum in proles of many boreholes in the Pawowice area. The different origins of the gasses in the two methane-rich zones may partly explain this. 3.2. Methane migration The process of coal-bed methane migration reects changes in pressure and temperature conditions. Rock burial and uplift result in pore-pressure and rock-temperature changes that lead to changes in sorption capacity (e.g., Hildenbrand et al., 2006; Khavari-Khorasani and Michelsen, 1999). Methane driven from coal seams at high temperatures is adsorbed by seams at lower temperatures. As methane migrates towards areas of lower pressure, the destinations were erosional highs in the Carboniferous surface and slopes. Thus, today, elevated methane contents preferentially characterize seams in these places. Both thermogenic and microbial methane migrated through the Carboniferous rocks. Microbial methane migrated only short distances within the area immediately below the roof of the coal series. Thermogenic methane moved upwards over a much greater distance from its deeper source along faults and other breaks (e.g. Alsaab et al., 2009; Staniek, 1986; Tarnowski, 1989). The connection between the occurrence of coal-bed gasses in the weathered top of Carboniferous series and deeper-lying high rank coals has been recognized in the Czech part of the USCB (Hemza et al., 2009; Kandarachevov et al., 2009) and in the Polish part around Jastrzbie (Borowski, 1968; Kdzior, 2009b). 3.3. Methane accumulation The Miocene clays complex overlying the Carboniferous coal bearing strata, as well as claystones and mudstones of the Zae Beds at the top of the Carboniferous sequence enabled CBM accumulation in the shallow zone (Kdzior, 2009b). CBM is not exclusive to the coal seams in the uppermost Carboniferous strata. Free methane also occurs in weathered breccia in those same strata and close by in sandstones of the Dbowiec Formation (e.g., Poborski, 1960). In these cases, methane is typically linked with water. The free gas in the Miocene deposits raises the question, if the secondary CBM zone, in which sorbed methane predominates, is part of a larger methane complex, also embracing coal seams, gaseous sandstones and conglomerates at the top of the Carboniferous complex and Miocene rocks. This possibility may gain support from the fact that methane of similar microbial origin to that

in the shallow CBM zone occurs in conventional gas deposits in the Carpathian Foredeep (e.g., Kotarba, 1999) and also by the occurrence of gas resources in Miocene sandstones in nearby Dbowiec lski and Pogrz. The problem of coexisting coal-bed methane and free natural gas in Miocene deposits has been long discussed (e.g., Kdzior, 2008b; Kotarba and Pluta, 2009; Obuchowicz, 1963; Poborski, 1960). 3.4. Sorption capacity and methane saturation in coal Coal sorption capacity, i.e., the total gas capable of being adsorbed at given temperatures and pressures, is a parameter controlled by coal type, temperature and pore pressure (Kdzior, 2009b). Many studies in coal basins elsewhere have shown that coal rank and the content of vitrinite and inertinite macerals, are positively inuential (e.g., Busch et al., 2004; Gentzis et al., 2008; Lamberson and Bustin, 1993; Laxminarayana and Crosdale, 1999), whereas some authors did not nd any correlation between maceral composition and sorption capacity (e.g. Krooss et al., 2002). There also seems to be a rank dependence of the inuence of maceral composition on sorption capacity of coal (Crosdale et al., 1998). Negative inuences are temperature and moisture content (e.g., Hildenbrand et al., 2006). In the USCB, similar studies (e.g., Borowski and Sosnowski, 1977; Hemza et al., 2009; Jurczak-Drabek and Kwarciski, 2003) reached broadly similar conclusions. However, in the case of USCB coals, sorption capacity is mainly controlled by the inertinite group (fusinite and semifusinite; Jurczak-Drabek and Kwarciski, 2003). In the sub-area of interest here, coal parameters controlling sorption capacity favor methane accumulation (Table 1); the total content of vitrinite and inertinite group macerals is high (6988%), the ash content is low (b 16%) and the rock temperature is moderate (2134 C). The difference between the sorption capacity of coal and its presentday methane content denes the degree of methane saturation. In the study area, a considerable degree of undersaturation is evident (3070%; Kwarciski and Hadro, 2008). Based on research elsewhere (e.g., Hildenbrand et al., 2006), this undersaturation is probably the result of the geological history that included long-term basin uplift and, during the Mesozoic and Paleogene, caused major coal-seam degasication after which no signicant new gas was generated (see Sections 2.6 and 5.2.). Only the shallow parts of coal seams are almost fully methane saturated (80100%; see Kdzior, 2009b). This signicant level of saturation may reect the generation of late-stage microbial methane in the uppermost part of coal-bearing series during the Miocene, augmented by thermogenic methane from deeper levels (see Sections 3.2 and 5.2). 4. Experimental 4.1. Source material This work is based on the results of research carried out during exploratory drilling for coal and coal-bed methane between 1970 and 2007. The geological documentations for the coal deposits in WarszowicePawowice, Pawowice and KobirPszczyna areas are archived by the Polish Geological Institute (PGI). Some additional data on the reservoir parameters (permeability) of coal were obtained from samples collected from borehole Kaczyce 2/07, and from mine openings at Zowka mine several kilometers outside of the area. 4.2. Methane-content determination In the majority of the boreholes, methane content was determined by vacuum degasication in hermetic containers the method used by the Katowice Geological Enterprise (KPG). The method involves the degassing of coal samples in one liter metal containers under 710 mm Hg pressure (Borowski; Niemczyk; Niemczyk and Daniel in Kdzior, 2009b). In three exploratory boreholes drilled for CBM, the US Bureau of Mines (USBM) method was applied. In contrast to the KPG method, this method involves the degassing of whole sections of core in 30 or 60 foot gas containers


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Table 1 Coal-seam parameters and methane contents in the shallow CBM zone in the southern USCB. Sources: The archives of the Polish Geological Institute and * Semyrka et al. (1995). Borehole Stratigraphy Number of seams Depth (m) Rock temperature (C) *Vitrinite reectance Ro (%) 0.9 *Maceral composition (%) Vitrinite (V) 70.9 Inertitnite (I) 8.0 V+I 78.9 Liptinite (L) 6.8 *Mineral matter (%) Methane content (m3/t coal daf)

Piasek IG-1

ka IG-1 Studzionka IG-1 Krzyowice IG-1 Warszowice Pawowice TXA Warszowice Pawowice 9* Warszowice Pawowice 19*

Cracow Sandstone and Mudstone Series (S) Mudstone S Mudstone S Mudstone S Mudstone S Mudstone S Mudstone S





2 3 1 7 1 3

438508 693723 539540 300380 692693 315341

23 33 24 24 33 24

0.7 0.9 0.8 0.8 0.9 0.8

76.1 70.2 77.2 68.2 52.0 55.0

8.6 17.7 11.6 9.0 27.0 14.0

84.7 87.9 88.8 77.2 79.0 69.0

5.9 8.6 6.6 6.6 17.0 17.0

9.4 3.5 4.6 16.2 4.0 14.0

4.5 6.0 6.7 6.7 10.5 8.4

under atmospheric pressure for, in many cases, several months. Both methods account for gas lost during gas sampling, desorbed gas and residual gas (Kdzior, 2009b; McLennan et al., 1995). The USBM method is more precise than the KPG method, but takes a much longer time. Data provided by Twardowski (1997) show that both methods give similar results. In total, 1319 methane measurements from 87 boreholes were used. 4.3. Permeability of coal With the prospect of borehole CBM exploitation from the shallow coal seams in the area, measurements of coal permeability were made. To a considerable degree, the success of CBM exploitation is controlled by this parameter (e.g., Scott, 2002). As no extensive research on coal permeability has been carried out in the USCB, and in spite of data provided by Amoco, Texaco and Pol-Tex Methane, the Oil and Gas Institute in Cracow was commissioned to carry out analyses of coal permeability on samples from the recently-drilled borehole Kaczyce 2/07 and from the openings at Zowka mine. The Oil and Gas Institute measurements included in the determination of coal permeability were made using an apparatus belonging to the Temco Company Inc., that involved nitrogen owing through the coal sample. In the determination of permeability, the Darcy equation was applied. 5. Results and discussion 5.1. The secondary, shallow methane zone determination For every borehole in the study area, graphs showing the variation in methane content with depth were prepared (Fig. 8). Selected boreholes in which the shallow methane zone is best developed show the following features, which act as limiting criteria (Kdzior, 2008a): the bottom of the zone is dened by a methane content of 4.5 m3/t coal daf, apart from a small numbers of cases, where the limit of 4.5 m3/t coal daf also denes the top, the overlying Miocene cover constitutes the top of the zone, the average methane content within the zone is N 2.5 m3/t coal daf the minimum thickness of a coal seam is 0.6 m a maximum depth of 700 m (ca 450 m above sea level) applies only where the shallow zone links up with the deep methane zone. These features are in accordance with the balance criteria for CBM as a main mineral commodity applied in Poland (Directive of Minister

of Environment, December 18th. 2001). The maximum depth of the zone was assumed with the possibilities of borehole CBM exploitation in mind. Based on experiences elsewhere, depths from 200 to 800 m are optimal for protable CBM well exploitation (e.g., Kdzior et al., 2007; Pashin, 2010). The remaining criteria are based on knowledge of methane ows in coal seams. The minimum value of 4.5 m3/t coal daf is recognized as enabling industrial CBM production (Hunt and Stelle, 1991), whereas 2.5 m3/t coal daf enables spontaneous gas desorption from coal (Kandora and Grzybek in Twardowski, 1997). The thickness of the shallow methane zone and the average methane content within it are shown in Figs. 6 and 7. On the map of average methane contents (Fig. 7), vitrinite reectance (Ro) and the rock temperatures are also shown; these parameters control the sorption capacity of coal (e.g., Crosdale et al., 1998).

5.2. The degree of development of the shallow CBM zone Research on the extension and layout of the shallow CBM zone was carried out in the WarszowicePawowice, Pawowice and Kobir Pszczyna areas (Figs. 6 and 7). The key parameters of the zone are presented in Table 2. The vertical variation in methane content is shown in Fig. 8. The zone is most continuous and methane-rich in the Warszowice Pawowice and Pawowice areas (Table 2; Figs. 6 and 7). The maximum methane content was recorded in the WarszowicePawowice 11 borehole (average content 12.5 m3/t coal daf; maximum content 20.2 m3/t coal daf). This borehole is located ca 500 m to the north of the BzieCzechowice Fault Zone on its upthrow side within the southern slope of the Pawowice Ridge. It is also sited on the upthrow side of a small SSWNNE fault associated with the BzieCzechowice Fault Zone (Fig. 7). The minimum average methane content (3.8 m3/t coal daf) was recorded in the Pszczyna 73 borehole in the KobirPszczyna area where the zone is discontinuous in character (Figs. 6 and 7). In the WarszowicePawowice and Pawowice areas, the shallow coal seams lie within claystones and mudstones of the Mudstone Series which constitute, with Miocene clays, a hermetic seal for CBM (Kdzior, 2009b). In the KobirPszczyna area, porous aziska Sandstones in the uppermost Carboniferous strata explain why methane contents of coal seams are relatively low in these strata, compared to the seams within the claystones and mudstones. They also explain the shift of the shallow methane zone to the shales beneath the aziska Sandstones in the latter area (Fig. 9). The shallow CBM zone is best developed in the boreholes located within some erosional highs, at surfaces and, in particular, on the slopes of the Pawowice Ridge (Figs. 3, 6 and 7). The highest methane

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Fig. 6. The thickness of CBM shallow zone in the southern part of the USCB. 1 main faults, 2 approximate boundary of the aziska Sandstones, 3 thickness of the shallow CBM zone (m). Source: Archive of the Polish Geological Institute.

contents (N 8 m3/t coal daf) occur in the WarszowicePawowice 11, 15 and 18 boreholes sited in the vicinity of the valley on the south slope of the Pawowice Ridge and in WarszowicePawowice 19, 22 and 25 near the pass in the Pawowice Ridge above the same valley (Fig. 3). In contrast, the zone is less developed in the vicinity of the local high on the Pawowice Ridge outlined by the Pawowice 29 boreholes and in the environs of horizontal surfaces between the ory and Pawowice ridges (WarszowicePawowice 3943 and wierklany 5; Figs. 6 and 7). The development of the zone is probably related to the involvement of methane of microbial origin. Archaebacteria introduced into the rock-mass with meteoric water generated methane as a result of carbon dioxide reduction. Water inltration was probably most signicant on the southern steep slope of the Pawowice Ridge and in the local valleys; the high methane contents of coal seams in these places are the result (Fig. 10). In general, the shape of the Carboniferous surface controls the extent of the shallow zone in the WarszowicePawowice and Pawowice areas. The most gaseous parts are the slopes of the Pawowice ridge, particularly where broken by valleys and the passes above them (Kdzior, 2008a; Figs. 6, 7 and 10). In WarszowicePawowice 13 and 18, the shallow zone even links with the deep primary zone. Tectonic factors are also likely involved in the conguration of the shallow methane zone. The highest methane contents and the greatest zone thicknesses appear in boreholes near the BzieCzechowice and Jawiszowice fault zones. The increased thickness of the shallow CBM zone in the vicinity of the regional BzieCzechowice and Jawiszowice faults, and in associated faults and ridges, shows the importance of these structures in methane migration (Kdzior, 2009b; Staniek, 1986; Figs. 8 and 12, see Section 3.2). The two CBM zones also overlap near these structures (Figs. 6 and 7). As

migrating thermogenic methane probably mixed with indigenous microbial methane, the gas in the secondary shallow zone is likely to be a combination of both methane types. Available data do not allow a more precise conclusion. 5.3. Coal permeability The cleat system of coal determines its permeability and, thus, its ability to conduct uids. Two methods of permeability measurement were used in this study. The rst was carried out in-situ during drilling by the Amoco and Texaco Companies and the second in the laboratory on coal samples taken by the author from the Kaczyce 2/07 borehole and from the openings of Zowka Mine. Both gave similar results (Fig. 11). A general trend of decreasing permeability with depth was noted; as pore pressure increases, the cleats close. This trend has been recognized elsewhere (e.g., Bodden and Ehrlich, 1998; Gentzis et al., 2008; Pashin, 2010; Scott, 2002). In the USCB, measured coal permeabilities average between 1 and 3 mD (Kdzior, 2009b; McCants et al., 2001; Van Bergen et al., 2006); this low permeability is insufcient for protable methane exploitation. The trend noted above suggests that high coal permeability might characterize the Carboniferous series where the shallow CBM zone exists (Fig. 11). Estimated values range between 27 and 230 mD at a depth of 200500 m (J. Hadro et al., Internal Report, October 2006). However, no such values have been actually measured to-date in the area. Studies on coal permeability elsewhere (e. g., Gentzis et al., 2007, 2008) demonstrate the strong negative inuence of tectonic stress on coal permeability. The main direction of coal permeability should reect the orientation of any regional tectonic stress (e.g., Gentzis et al., 2008; Wolf et al., 2008). In the area of interest here, a present-day WE


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Fig. 7. The average methane content within the shallow CBM zone. 1 main faults, 2 approximate boundary of aziska Sandstones, 3 rock temperature (C), 4 vitrinite reectance (%). G average methane content (m3/t coal daf). Source: Archive of the Polish Geological Institute.

horizontal stress (Pozzi, 1996) could be having a negative effect on coal permeability. Gas and rock outbursts that occurred in the vicinity of the Bzie Czechowice Fault Zone in openings in the nearby Pniwek and Zowka coal mines provide evidence that the permeability of coal that has been subject to local stress can be greatly enhanced. Microscope examination of samples from the outbursts reveals structurally deformed coal networked by new fractures (Jakubw et al., 2006). However, the tectonic context needs to be more completely understood here. A linear correlation between average cleat spacing and host vitrain-layer thickness has been shown elsewhere (Dawson and Esterle, 2010). In the area, vitrinite group macerals predominate in the coal at depths of 200500 m (average 70%: Table 1). This could inuence coal permeability, as vitrinite-rich coals have a denser cleat network compared to dull, inertinite-rich coal (Bustin, in Gentzis et al., 2008). 5.4. Potential methods of methane exploitation Methane may be recovered by means of independent gas wells and from the methane drainage systems in coal mines. The rst method was tested in the area by Texaco during the nineties. Deeper coal seams (N 1000 m) with low permeability (ca 13 mD; see Section 5.3) were tested. Gas yields from the boreholes of 200350 m3 per day (Texaco reports, December 1998) were insufcient to encourage exploitation. The shallow CBM zone, lying at depths between 200 and 500 m, is quite dense and continuous with a thickness between 150 and 200 m, locally more (Section 5.1). With an estimated coal permeability of 27230 mD and almost full methane saturation (80100%), this zone

is a more favorable prospect. Moreover, the cost of drilling shallow boreholes (b 700 m deep) would be lower. The Euro Energy Resources Company, granted a concession to explore the CBM potential of the central part of USCB Main Syncline (Kdzior et al., 2007), is currently undertaking a prefeasibility study on CBM recovery from the secondary CBM zone. The use of horizontal wells and underbalanced drilling technology is being considered as it has proved successful elsewhere (Gentzis et al., 2008; Kwarciski and Hadro, 2008). Even though the company estimates that ca 5.2 billion m3 of methane are present in the shallow CBM zone in the area (J. Hadro et al., Project of Geological Surveys, EurEnergy Resources, June 2006), implementation of these recovery methods faces problems. The seams in the Mudstone Series are irregularly developed with variable thicknesses rarely N 2 m (L. Mandrela, Z. Pkaa, unpublished report, Katowice Geological Enterprise, May 2002). In addition, inserts b 50 cm thick of other rocks tend to split up the seams and a lack of lithological or paleontological markers inhibits correlation. Thus, the scope of the feasibility study was extended almost to the base of the Mudstone Series. There are other problems. Crucial for horizontal drilling is the problem of the fault zones dividing the coal series into blocks. These blocks must not be too small. Borehole data alone cannot adequately map the dislocations or provide an estimate of block size. Thus, geophysical methods, e.g., 3D seismics, are being considered. Underground water captured from the boreholes is a further problem. Due to its salinity, this water should be re-injected deep into the rock mass. In this case, the permeable Miocene Dbowiec Formation comprising sand and gravel with the ltration coefcient averaging ca 5 107 m/s, could accept the necessary quantities (B. Niemczyk, Internal Report, Katowice Geological Enterprise, MaySept. 1998).

S. Kdzior / International Journal of Coal Geology 86 (2011) 157168 Table 2 Parameters of the CBM shallow zone in the southern USCB. Source: The archives of the Polish Geological Institute. Borehole The CBM shallow zone Elevation of base (m above sea level) KobirPszczyna 121 Krzyowice 28 Krzyowice 30 Krzyowice IG-1 ka IG-1 Pawowice 1 Pawowice 11 Pawowice 12 Pawowice 13 Pawowice 15 Pawowice 17 Piasek IG-1 Pszczyna 28 Pszczyna 29 Pszczyna 73 Studzionka IG-1 Suszec 12 Suszec 13 Suszec 16 Warszowice 4/91 Warszowice Pawowice 2 WarszowicePawowice 9 WarszowicePawowice 11 WarszowicePawowice 12 Warszowice Pawowice 13 Warszowice Pawowice 15 Warszowice Pawowice 18 WarszowicePawowice 19 WarszowicePawowice 20 WarszowicePawowice 22 WarszowicePawowice 23 Warszowice Pawowice 25 Warszowice Pawowice 26 Warszowice Pawowice 27 Warszowice Pawowice 29 Warszowice Pawowice 30 Warszowice Pawowice 37 Warszowice Pawowice 38 Warszowice Pawowice 45 Warszowice Pawowice 88/2/96 Warszowice Pawowice TXA 300.0 170.2 317.9 286.3 247.0 279.4 102.6 276.4 419.6 479.5 174.7 255.0 113.0 80.0 115.0 653.9 449.4 149.9 49.1 361.3 449.9 449.6 439.5 575.1 440.0 430.2 449.6 160.1 133.3 99.7 450.0 147.4 115.8 99.1 449.4 83.1 450.4 248.2 244.3 449.3 143.9 Thickness of zone (m) 353.3 177.9 320.0 26.7 83.0 250.0 170.0 53.0 247.0 56.0 200.0 216.0 190.3 152.2 225.8 255.0 528.0 228.8 76.0 436.8 420.4 77.0 216.0 150.0 221.0 255.0 435.0 134.0 130.0 85.0 422.2 125.0 76.0 100.0 465.0 50.0 340.0 130.0 347.0 400.0 130.0


Methane content (m3/t coal daf) Average 4.2 7.6 7.1 6.7 4.5 4.4 5.7 3.9 4.6 5.0 4,6 4.0 4.1 5.6 3.8 6.0 6.3 5.9 4.3 5.8 8.2 10.5 12.5 10.5 7.3 8.7 9.2 8.4 4.7 8.1 5.3 8.0 7.4 7.2 7.2 8.7 10.0 7.7 4.8 7.1 6.7 Maximum 4.6 9.6 7.4 6.7 5.2 5.7 5.7 5.0 6.1 6.3 7.6 5.2 4.9 5.6 5.3 8.7 6.5 6.5 5.2 9.3 10.8 10.5 20.2 13.6 8.1 13.6 18.7 11.5 4.7 8.4 5.3 12.8 9.0 8.2 8.8 8.7 14.0 7.7 5.3 8.4 7.9

Fig. 8. Variation in methane contents with depth. Legend as in Fig. 5. Source: Archive of Polish Geological Institute.


S. Kdzior / International Journal of Coal Geology 86 (2011) 157168

Fig. 9. The aziska Sandstones and the location of the shallow CBM zone in the Kobir Pszczyna area. 1 aziska Sandstones (Cracow Sandstone Series), 2 Mudstone Series, 3 shallow CBM zone, 4 coal seam, 5 expected direction of methane migration, 6 line of methane content = 4.5 m3/t coal daf. BC Fault BzieCzechowice Fault Zone. BC BzieCzechowice, CBM coal-bed methane. Source: Archive of the Polish Geological Institute.

Fig. 11. Vertical variation in coal permeability within the southern part of the USCB. Modied after J. Hadro et al., unpublished report, October 2006.

In spite of these various problems, the area seems to have more potential for successful CBM recovery than neighboring areas or the remainder of the USCB. The most important favorable factors are the shallow depth of the methane-saturated seams, their almost complete saturation and the thickness of the secondary CBM zone. The building of new mine openings at Pniwek Mine in the Pawowice area is planned. The collection of methane through the mine drainage system may be feasible there, as in neighboring mines (see Section 2.6). The well production of longwall gob gas might be considered; this has proved successful elsewhere (e.g., Karacan, 2009). As methane has been drained and collected at the Pniwek and Zowka mines in the vicinity, a well-developed gas distribution network already exists there.

(4) The shallow CBM zone probably comprises a mixture of late-stage microbial methane and migrated thermogenic methane from deeper coals. As a result, the coal seams are almost fully saturated with methane (80100%) and the zone is especially thick near structures that facilitated migration, e.g., the BzieCzechowice Fault Zone. (5) The estimated greater permeability of the shallow coal seams (27230 mD) compared to that of the deeper coals (13 mD) makes the shallow CBM zone an attractive prospect, even though there are serious geological difculties to be overcome. (6) Future exploitation of the methane may involve independent gas-well production and/or gas collection from drainage systems in future coal mines.

6. Conclusions Acknowledgements (1) A shallow secondary CBM zone ca 100200 m thick occurs at a depth of 200500 m in uppermost-Carboniferous coal-bearing strata. It is separated from the deep primary CBM zone by a reduced-methane concentration interval. (2) The topography of the Carboniferous erosion surface controls the distribution of the secondary methane; gas preferentially occupies topographic slopes and highs. (3) In the eastern part of the area, the shallow zone is weakly developed as porous and permeable aziska sandstones there have allowed methane to escape. This work was partly nanced by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (Grant no N N307 427834). The author thanks the staff of the Archive of the Polish Geological Institute for their assistance and commitment as the materials for this study were collected. Thanks are also due to Karbonia PL and Zowka Mine for making drill core available and to the Oil and Gas Institute in Cracow for petrophysical analyses. Marek Haczyski from BobrekCentrum mine is thanked for his assistance in preparing the maps on Figs. 3, 6 and 7 and Pdhraig Kennan of University College Dublin for assistance with the manuscript.

Fig. 10. Inuence of the BzieCzechowice fault on the distribution of the CBM shallow zone in the Pawowice area. Legend as in Fig. 9. BC BzieCzechowice, CBM coal-bed methane. Source: Archive of the Polish Geological Institute.

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The author also wishes to thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions and comments. References
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