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Discontinuities within these coalbeds or seams (hereafter referred to as “coalbeds”) are important in that they affect the way in which water in the coalbeds and surrounding sedimentary formations migrates and is replenished. A permeable geological material, or a material’s “permeability,” refers to its ability to transmit fluids and is generally associated with the degree of connectivity between pores in the material. FIGURE 2.2 Illustration of the Cretaceous interior seaways, including the Western, Hudson, and Labrador seaways. A higher degree of pore connectivity would indicate higher permeability or ability of the material to transmit fluids. The organic-rich sediments were deposited through Cretaceous and Paleocene (ca. When water in a confined coalbed connects to the water table at an elevation above the elevation of the coal seam, the water in the coalbed may become overpressured with respect to the pressure exerted by a static column of water in the overlying rock (termed “hydrostatic pressure” or “hydrostatic head”). 65 million to 56 million years ago) times during the rise and fall of intercontinental sea levels. When a well is placed in a confined coal seam, the water level will rise to an elevation above the seam.
The “age” of the water, or its residence time in the coalbed, thus also indicates the degree to which the CBM water is connected to surface water and shallow groundwater. Because of the naturally discontinuous distribution of these wetland settings and the tectonic processes that affected buried coals during and after their formation, most of the coal deposits now in these western basins, although regionally pervasive, are also discontinuous.