US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Journal of Applied Geophysics 105 (2014) 147–158


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Prediction of potential methane emission pathways from various sources into active mine workings or sealed gobs from longwall overburden is important for controlling methane and for improving mining safety. The aim of this paper is to infer strata separation intervals and thus gas emission pathways from standard well log data. The proposed technique was applied to well logs acquired through the Mary Lee/Blue Creek coal seam of the Upper Pottsville Formation in the BlackWarrior Basin, Alabama, using well logs froma series of boreholes aligned along a nearly linear profile. For this purpose, continuous wavelet transform (CWT) of digitized gamma well logs was performed by using Mexican hat and Morlet, as the mother wavelets, to identify potential discontinuities in the signal. Pointwise Hölder exponents (PHE) of gamma logs were also computed using the generalized quadratic variations (GQV) method to identify the location and strength of singularities of well log signals as a complementary analysis. PHEs and wavelet coefficients were analyzed to find the locations of singularities along the logs. Using the well logs in this study, locations of predicted singularities were used as indicators in single normal equation simulation (SNESIM) to generate equi-probable realizations of potential strata separation intervals. Horizontal and vertical variograms of realizations were then analyzed and compared with those of indicator data and training image (TI) data using the Kruskal–Wallis test. A sum of squared differences was employed to select the most probable realization representing the locations of potential strata separations and methane flow paths. Results indicated that singularities located inwell log signals reliably correlatedwith strata transitions or discontinuities within the strata. Geostatistical simulation of these discontinuities provided information about the location and extents of the continuous channels that may form during mining. If there is a gas source within their zone of influence, paths may develop and allow methane movement towards sealed or active gobs under pressure differentials. Knowledge gained from this research will better prepare mine operations for potential methane inflows, thus improving mine safety.