National evaluation for development and exploration potential of mineral commodities in produced waters

Stephanie Ray, University of Texas at El Paso


The U.S. Geological Survey recently updated a geochemical database consisting of data for approximately 160,000 produced waters samples, primarily from petroleum and geothermal reservoirs. Using major and trace elements from conventional and unconventional well types from the database, this thesis provides a comprehensive, national evaluation for mineral commodity potential in produced waters. Produced waters contain virtually every naturally occurring element and can range in salinity to several times that of seawater. Despite the typical outlook to view produced waters as a waste, they have potential for natural resource development. This thesis provides, for each mineral commodity found in the produced waters database, maps showing the distribution of concentration, economic values of mineral commodities, and statistical analysis, for the contiguous United States. The maps identify areas of interest for both resource potential and show the largest priority for future mineral exploration; as well as to identify data gaps and needs for future exploration. Identified constituents in concentrations at some locations exceed disposal costs and hold the greatest potential for profit: cesium, bromine, lithium carbonate, iodine, lithium chloride, magnesium, potash, soda ash, rubidium formate, and rubidium chloride. From these commodities, further data exploration would be required for rubidium formate, rubidium chloride and cesium. To maximize potential for development of produced waters is grouping minerals commodities to increase revenues. Either through selective or grouped removal for commodities, produced waters have potential for economic development. It may be possible to no longer consider produced waters as a waste product and a new viable resource.

Subject Area

Geology|Civil engineering|Geochemistry

Recommended Citation

Ray, Stephanie, "National evaluation for development and exploration potential of mineral commodities in produced waters" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10118842.