Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lessons In Carbon Storage From Geological Analogues - Open Access Geology

Mike Bickle and Niko Kampman in an open access article in the April issue of Geology summarize the findings of two papers (1 , 2)  published in the same issue on naturally occurring CO2 accumulations in sedimentary reservoirs and inferences drawn on their long term fate.

One potential strategy to manage growing atmospheric CO2 is to inject and store it in deep sedimentary aquifers with a retention time of at least ten thousand years.

The article identifies the key questions:

(1) how quickly will the buoyant CO2 dissolve in formation brines (good), (2) how quickly will the CO2 brines react with silicate minerals and precipitate solid carbonate phases (good), (3) will CO2 or CO2-charged brines corrode cap-rocks and escape upward (bad), and (4) will CO2 penetrate up fault zones (bad)?

It is dense but rewarding reading for those into mineralogy, phase equilibria and fluid-rock interaction. 

This is something that should be of enormous interest to Indian sedimentary basin specialists and climate change mitigation planners. In a recent post I mentioned about India's plans to build 400 odd more coal power plants in the next few decades. Many will be located near sources of coal in the continental rift basins of eastern India. Is carbon dioxide sequestration in natural reservoirs economically viable? Do these basins have favorable conditions deep underground for long term storage of CO2? It is research well worth funding given that our dependance on coal will last several more decades.

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