Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nice Map Of Basalt and Ophiolite Potential Carbon Reservoirs

Here is a great looking world map which shows the distribution of continental  basalts (a) and ophiolite complexes (b). Ophiolites are slices of the earth' s oceanic crust and upper mantle that have been exposed on land by tectonic forces. They are found along ancient and modern convergent plate settings i.e. regions where two plates are converging and colliding with each other.

Can these mafic igneous rocks act as reservoirs for storing carbon dioxide?

Source: Permanent storage of carbon dioxide in geological reservoirs by mineral carbonation

The article is open access. I posted about this article before but more from the perspective of the Deccan Basalts as a potential CO2 reservoir and how that might conflict with other more immediate uses of that rock body.

I thought I'd pass along the link to this map too.


  1. Thanks for that link- fascinating paper. I had seen a couple of press reports a year or so ago on the potential of mafic and ultramafic rocks as CO2 sinks, but it was a real pleasure to read a technical paper on the issue. By my non-expert reading, this looks even more promising than I had thought.

    A minor quibble is that with respect to basalt, the authors focus just on continental flood basalts. The rock is much more common and abundant than their map implies.

  2. Lockwood- yes it's good to read a peer reviewed paper which lays down some numbers on this topic.

    I looked through the paper but the authors don't give reasons why only continental flood basalts. maybe there are looking at very large stable rock masses, but by the same reasoning many ophiolites are small slices. They do mention oceanic basalts too. but it will be comparatively more expensive in terms of CO2 transportation and drilling through several kms of sediment to reach the basalt.

  3. In your original post you suggested this was probably a non-starter for India, given our unwillingness to implement cuts in emissions. Do you think recent moves by China (and now more modest ones by India) to cut emission intensity will change the equation at all?