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Geologic CO2 Sequestration

News & Recent Publications

 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fate of injected CO2 in the Wilcox Group, Louisiana, Gulf Coast Basin

Chemical and isotopic tracers of microbial–brine–rock–CO2 interactions

Outside Publication: Applied Geochemistry
The “2800’ sandstone” of the Olla oil field is an oil and gas-producing reservoir in a coal-bearing interval of the Paleocene–Eocene Wilcox Group in north-central Louisiana, USA. In the 1980s, this producing unit was flooded with CO2 in an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) project, leaving ∼30% of the injected CO2 in the 2800’ sandstone post-injection...


Monday, October 27, 2014

Geologic Framework for the National Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources—Williston Basin, Central Montana Basins, and Montana Thrust Belt Study Areas

USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2012-1024-J
Chapter J - The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act directs the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct a national assessment of potential geologic storage resources for carbon dioxide (CO2). The methodology used by the USGS for the national CO2 assessment follows that of previous USGS work. This methodology is non-economic and is intended to be used at regional to sub-basinal scales.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

The use of solvent extractions and solubility theory to discern hydrocarbon associations in coal, with application to the coal–supercritical CO2 system

Outside Publication: Organic Geochemistry
Samples of three high volatile bituminous coals were subjected to parallel sets of extractions involving solvents dichloromethane (DCM), carbon disulfide (CS2), and supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) (40 °C, 100 bar) to study processes affecting coal–solvent interactions. Recoveries of perdeuterated surrogate compounds, n-hexadecane-d34 and four polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), added as a spike prior to extraction, provided further insight into these processes.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Geologic Framework for the National Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources—Alaska North Slope and Kandik Basin, Alaska

USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2012–1024–I
Chapter I - This report presents fourteen storage assessment units (SAUs) from the Alaska North Slope and two SAUs from the Kandik Basin of Alaska. The Alaska North Slope is a broad, north-dipping coastal plain that is underlain by a thick succession of sedimentary rocks that accumulated steadily throughout much of the Phanerozoic during three major tectonic sequences: the Mississippian through Triassic Ellesmerian sequence, the Jurassic through Lower Cretaceous Beaufortian sequence, and the Cretaceous and Tertiary Brookian sequence.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

USGS Updates the Geologic CO2 Sequestration Interactive Web Map!

The USGS has updated the Geologic CO2 Sequestration Interactive Web Map to include links to the national assessment results, supporting information for all assessed areas, and report downloads. The update also features an improved navigational interface. 


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Geologic Framework for the National Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources

U.S. Gulf Coast

USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2012–1024–H
This report presents 27 storage assessment units (SAUs) within the United States (U.S.) Gulf Coast. At least nine major depositional packages contain porous strata that are potentially suitable for geologic carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration within the region. For each SAU identified within these packages, the areal distribution of porous rock that is suitable for geologic CO2sequestration is discussed, along with a description of the geologic characteristics that influence the potential CO2 storage volume and reservoir performance.


Monday, April 07, 2014

Geologic Framework for the National Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources

Denver Basin, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska

USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2012–1024–G
Chapter G - This is a report about the geologic characteristics of five storage assessment units (SAUs) within the Denver Basin of Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. These SAUs are Cretaceous in age and the geologic information included here will be used to calculate a statistical Monte Carlo-based distribution of potential storage volume in the SAUs.


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Geologic Framework for the National Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources

Greater Green River Basin, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, and Wyoming-Idaho-Utah Thrust Belt

USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2012–1024–E
This report identifies and contains geologic descriptions of 14 storage assessment units (SAUs) in Ordovician to Upper Cretaceous sedimentary rocks within the Greater Green River Basin (GGRB) of Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, and eight SAUs in Ordovician to Upper Cretaceous sedimentary rocks within the Wyoming-Idaho-Utah Thrust Belt (WIUTB). Figures in this report show SAU boundaries and cell maps of well penetrations through sealing units into the top of the storage formations. 


Monday, December 23, 2013

Geologic Framework for the National Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources

Arkoma Basin, Kansas Basins, and Midcontinent Rift Basin Study Areas

USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2012–1024–F
This report identifies and contains geologic descriptions of three storage assessment units (SAUs) in Upper Cambrian to Mississippian sedimentary rocks within the Arkoma Basin study area, and two SAUs in Upper Cambrian to Mississippian sedimentary rocks within the Kansas Basins study area.


123

Overview

Carbon Sequestration – Geologic Research and Assessments

Geological sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, is an available technology that injects and stores anthropogenic CO2 produced by various industries and electric generation facilities in porous and permeable subsurface rock units, thereby preventing the release of the CO2 into the atmosphere where it may contribute to global warming. Few large-scale CO2 geologic sequestration projects exist today and more research is needed to be to better understand the geologic controls on subsurface rock storage capacities, the geologic and environmental hazards, and economic feasibility associated with CO2 geologic sequestration.

A USGS figure illustrating the concept of geologic carbon sequestration
Figure 1. Illustration describing the concept of geologic carbon sequestration. A large scale (17x11) printable version of this USGS illustration is available for download here [58MB PDF]. Illustration is from USGS Fact Sheet 2010-3122. Figure composed by Douglas W. Duncan and illustrated by Eric A. Morrissey.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has a long history of assessing national and global ground- and surface-water resources and geologically-based energy and mineral resources. In 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA, Public Law 110–140) authorized the USGS to conduct a national assessment of geologic storage resources for CO2. The results of the national assessment were published in 2013 (U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources Assessment Team, 2013). The EISA also requested USGS to evaluate the national technically recoverable hydrocarbon resources resulting from CO2 injection and storage (through CO2-enhanced oil recovery). During the next few years, the USGS Carbon Sequestration – Geologic Research and Assessments project plans to develop an assessment methodology and conduct an assessment of recoverable hydrocarbons associated with CO2 injection. An economic analysis of enhanced oil recovery associated with CO2 sequestration will also be undertaken.

The Carbon Sequestration – Geologic Research and Assessments project will also build on geologic models and regional assessment results developed during the national assessment of geologic storage resources. The project will conduct relevant research that focuses on improving the geologic and technical foundation and economic feasibility of CO2 sequestration in various geologic basins, rock types, and regions of the country. Environmental and geologic risks associated with CO2 sequestration will also be investigated and will include those associated with the geochemistry of produced groundwater and induced seismicity related to CO2 injection and storage.

The research conducted by the Carbon Sequestration – Geologic Research and Assessments project will also build the framework needed to improve future assessments of the Nation’s geologic CO2 storage capacities. The project will continue to monitor research to evaluate the storage potential of CO2 in unconventional reservoirs (coal, shale and basaltic rocks). Continued and new interactions and collaborations with State and Federal agencies, industry, and international organizations that conduct research or are active in the area of geologic carbon sequestration will complement ongoing research efforts in the USGS. The USGS project work will complement ongoing efforts in these other organizations, and will use their results in the planned research efforts. Project research results will be presented at scientific meetings and published.

During the course of the Carbon Sequestration – Geologic Research and Assessments project, the following six research and assessment topics will be investigated. These topics are discussed in more detail in the research section of this web page. 

  • Methodology development and assessment of national CO2 enhanced oil recovery and associated CO2 storage potential
  • Geological studies of reservoirs and seals in selected basins with high potential for CO2 storage
  • Natural CO2 reservoirs as analogues for CO2 storage and resources for enhanced oil recovery
  • Economics of CO2 storage and enhanced oil recovery
  • Storage of CO2 in unconventional geologic reservoirs
  • Induced seismicity associated with CO2 geologic storage

USGS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Pertaining to "Carbon Sequestration"

 

Peter Warwick
Project Chief

Margo Corum
Associate Project Chief

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Research

Research conducted by the Carbon Sequestration – Geologic Research and Assessments project will build on geologic models and regional assessment results developed during the national assessment of geologic storage resources (U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources Assessment Team, 2013). The project will conduct relevant research that focuses on improving the geologic and technical foundation and economic feasibility of carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration in various geologic basins, rock types, and regions of the country. Environmental and geologic risks associated with CO2 sequestration will also be investigated and will include those associated with the geochemistry of produced groundwater and induced seismicity related to CO2 injection and storage. During the course of the Carbon Sequestration – Geologic Research and Assessments project, the following six research and assessment topics will be investigated.

Methodology development and assessment of national CO2 enhanced oil recovery and associated CO2 storage potential

Methodology development and assessment of national CO2 enhanced oil recovery and associated CO2 storage potential

Methodology development and assessment of national CO2 enhanced oil recovery and associated CO2 storage potential

Geologic CO2 sequestration coupled with enhanced oil recovery (EOR) using CO2 in existing hydrocarbon reservoirs can increase the U.S. hydrocarbon recoverable resource volume and prevent CO2 release to the atmosphere potentially limiting its contribution to global warming as a greenhouse gas. The current national base capacity for technically recoverable oil using enhanced CO2 injection is unknown. The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA, Public Law 110–140) of 2007 authorized the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct a national assessment of geologic storage resources and to evaluate the national technically recoverable hydrocarbon resources resulting from CO2 injection and storage (CO2-EOR). The USGS recently completed a national CO2 storage assessment (U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources Assessment Team, 2013). In addition, the Carbon Sequestration – Geologic Research and Assessments project has developed a comprehensive CO2-EOR database and a preliminary assessment methodology to evaluate the technically recoverable oil related to CO2 sequestration. The goal of the CO2-EOR research task is to finalize the assessment methodology and to conduct a national assessment of technically recoverable oil related to CO2 injection. The amount of CO2 stored during the hydrocarbon recovery process will also be evaluated.

Although enhanced gas recovery by CO2 gas injection into the reservoir is technically feasible, no commercial enhanced gas recovery project exists today in conventional gas reservoirs. There could be some benefits of CO2 gas injection, such as additional natural gas recovery and condensate recovery, but this is not practical because of the high gas recovery factor, the costs of capture and transmission of CO2 to the gas fields, and additional infrastructure for CO2 separation and injection in the gas fields. Therefore, enhanced gas recovery using CO2 injection will not be part of the national CO2-EOR assessment.

The objective of the CO2-EOR research effort is to develop a geologic- and reservoir engineering-based, probabilistic assessment methodology that can be used to estimate the potential volumes of technically recoverable oil using CO2-EOR and associated CO2 sequestration in the onshore and state waters oil fields of the United States. After the methodology has been carefully reviewed by experts from industry, academia, and government, USGS plans to use the assessment methodology to conduct a national assessment of recoverable oil using CO2. The resulting storage of CO2 associated with enhanced oil recovery will also be assessed.

The following USGS factsheet released in 2011 and a slide presentation at the 33rd IEA-EOR Symposium August 26-30, 2012 in Regina, Saskatchewan, summarize our approach to the development philosophy of assessment methodology and work progress.

USGS Factsheet: Development of an Assessment Methodology for Hydrocarbon Recovery Potential Using Carbon Dioxide and Associated Carbon Sequestration: Workshop Findings

Slideshow: Development Philosophy of an Assessment Methodology for Hydrocarbon Recovery Potential Using CO2–EOR Associated with Carbon Sequestration - By Mahendra Verma and Peter Warwick [Adobe Flash]

Contact: Mahendra Verma
Email: mverma@usgs.gov

Geological studies of reservoirs and seals in selected basins with high potential for CO2 storage

Geological studies of reservoirs and seals in selected basins with high potential for CO2 storage

Geological studies of reservoirs and seals in selected basins with high potential for CO2 storage

The recently completed USGS assessment of the national CO2 storage potential (U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources Assessment Team, 2013, http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1386/) establishes a baseline of storage resources available in various basins of the United States. Because the assessment was completed at a rapid pace in order to meet the completion deadline required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, more focused geological studies need to be conducted on reservoirs and seals in selected basins and storage assessment units (SAUs) with high potential for CO2 sequestration. Also, reevaluation of smaller basins not assessed during the initial assessment may be needed in some instances to better understand the character and distribution of the storage resources. The purpose of this research task is to reevaluate selected regions of the country and selected SAUs to better understand the distribution of the geologic storage resources for anthropogenic CO2. For example, the following questions represent some of the areas of research that will be addressed:

1) What are the characteristics of the regional sealing units that overlie the SAUs with significant CO2 storage potential?

2) What are the regional pressure variations in each basin and SAU?

3) Are some areas of the SAU in over-pressured or under-pressured conditions?

4) At what time scales did these over- or under-pressures conditions develop – at hundreds, thousands, or millions of years?

5) Which SAUs also have high potential for enhanced hydrocarbon recovery using injected CO2?

Regional maps need to be developed for selected SAUs with high storage potential that show variation in thickness, porosity, permeability, groundwater salinity, and structural complexity. Also, project members will work to complete the CO2 storage basin geology Open-File Reports series (see Warwick and Corum, 2012), which support the results of the USGS national CO2 storage assessment.

The objective of this research effort is to reevaluate selected regions of the country and selected SAUs to better define the distribution of the geologic storage resources for anthropogenic CO2. Since reservoir pressure directly impacts CO2 storage potential, regional models need to be developed to help understand the controls on over- and under-pressure development in basins. Geochemical models are needed to better understand the character of ground water and the subsurface geochemical environments in selected SAUs, which are important to assess the feasibility and potential environmental impacts of CO2 storage projects. As the opportunities develop, task members, in coordination with the USGS Produced Waters project, may also work cooperatively with other organizations to better characterize the local and regional geologic and ground water controls on potential CO2 storage.

Slideshow: CO2 Fluid Flow Modeling to Derive... the Time Scales of Lateral Fluid Migration - By Lauri Burke [Adobe Flash]

Contact: Peter Warwick
Email: pwarwick@usgs.gov

Natural CO2 reservoirs as analogues for CO2 storage and resources for enhanced oil recovery

Natural CO2 reservoirs as analogues for CO2 storage and resources for enhanced oil recovery

Natural CO2 reservoirs as analogues for CO2 storage and resources for enhanced oil recovery

The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA, Public Law 110–140) authorized the USGS to conduct a national assessment of geologic storage resources for CO2. The results of the national assessment were published in 2013 (U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources Assessment Team, 2013). The EISA also directed the USGS to evaluate the unique conditions resulting from long-term storage of CO2 in geologic reservoirs, and to estimate the potential volumes of recoverable hydrocarbons by injection and storage of anthropogenic CO2. To address these questions, project members plan to conduct detailed studies of natural CO2 reservoirs (those containing greater than 10 percent CO2) to determine the long-term geologic and geochemical effects of natural CO2 storage. The information obtained from these studies can be used to help predict the geologic and environmental effects of anthropogenic CO2 storage in geologic reservoirs. These studies include: 1) characterization of natural CO2 gas and reservoir rocks by geochemical and isotopic analyses to help determine the origin (mantle, thermal carbonate alteration, or other), migration pathways, and ultimate fate of the natural CO2; 2) characterization of formation water associated with natural CO2 reservoirs; and 3) geologic characterization of the CO2 reservoir rocks to determine the long-term effects of natural CO2 storage and the occurrence of CO2 leaks from the reservoir. Project staff will use this data to build geologic models needed to evaluate the availability and resource distribution of natural CO2 for enhanced oil recovery operations. To determine the need for anthropogenic CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations, a better understanding of the availability and resource distribution of naturally occurring CO2 is needed. Likely, a mix of CO2 from both anthropogenic and natural sources will be used to recover remaining hydrocarbons. An assessment of naturally occurring CO2 in the United States, using existing USGS National Oil and Gas Assessment methodology, is also planned.

The study of natural gas reservoirs that contain high amounts (greater than 10 percent) of CO2 can provide useful information to evaluate the geologic effects of long-term geologic storage of anthropogenic CO2. The primary aim of the research is to determine the origin of CO2 that is in natural gas reservoirs by using geochemical and isotopic analyses of gas and reservoir rocks. Field and rock core investigations will help determine the degree and rate of CO2 mineralization that has occurred in the reservoir rocks. Natural surface leaks associated with CO2 reservoirs will be investigated to determine the potential leakage pathways and time of leakage development. The collection of produced water samples from wells producing gas from high-CO2 reservoirs, done in coordination with the USGS Produced Waters Project, will help to determine the geochemical effects of CO2 on reservoir fluids, and the rate of CO2 dissolution into the reservoir formation waters. Reports will be prepared to show the results of these investigations and the development of potential analogues for anthropogenic CO2 storage reservoirs. The concept of CO2 systems, much like the petroleum system, will be developed and prepared for an assessment in the later years of the project of technically recoverable natural CO2.

Another objective of this research is to build the geologic CO2-system models needed to assess the nation for naturally occurring CO2 gas resources. The assessment will use the existing USGS National Oil and Gas Assessment conventional natural gas assessment methodology to assess the availability of recoverable natural CO2 for use in enhanced oil recovery. The national resources of recoverable natural CO2 are unknown and these resources will be used along with anthropogenic CO2 for enhanced oil recovery. The results of this assessment are needed to build the economic modes to evaluate the availability of both natural and anthropogenic CO2 for enhanced oil recovery.

Contact: Peter Warwick
Email: pwarwick@usgs.gov

Economics of CO2 storage and enhanced oil recovery

Economics of CO2 Storage and Enhanced Oil Recovery

Economics of CO2 storage and enhanced oil recovery

Resource assessments need an economic analysis of the results to help policy makers and other assessment users better understand the potential development of the resource under various economic conditions. Because geologic carbon sequestration is relatively new, few studies have been conducted on the economic viability of wide-spread implementation of the technology. Also, previous economic assessments of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) using CO2 have focused on the economics of the recoverable hydrocarbons and have not included an assessment of the economic viability of CO2 sequestration associated with the EOR processes. Research efforts will be coordinated with the Energy Resources Program - Economics Dimensions of Energy Resources, Assessments and Future Supply Project. The focus of the research will be to develop the economic models needed to evaluate: 1) the national assessment results of the U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources Assessment Team (2013); and 2) the potential for incremental oil recovery in oil fields in the lower 48 states that pass engineering and geologic screening criteria for CO2-EOR application.

In order to develop the economic implications of the USGS national assessment results for CO2 storage resources, an economic model of representative storage scenarios must be devised that incorporates geologic data similar to data applied in the national storage assessment. In addition costs must be estimated for various activities, including site evaluation, CO2 injection, storage management, and other economic parameters that may influence the viability of a particular CO2 storage project. Project staff, with the help of on-site and university contractors, will collect the information required to apply the economic models to estimate costs and economic consequences of risks associated with CO2 storage. In addition, for an economic analysis of CO2-EOR and associated carbon sequestration, project staff with contractor help, will collect the data needed to utilize published and constructed type curves to predict injection and production well performance. Economic models will be built in coordination with the USGS Economics Dimensions of Energy Resources, Assessments and Future Supply Project.

Contact: Philip Freeman
Email: pfreeman@usgs.gov

Storage of CO2 in unconventional geologic reservoirs

Unconventional Reservoirs and CO2 Storage

Storage of CO2 in unconventional geologic reservoirs

The results of USGS National CO2 assessment provide estimates of the potential subsurface storage volumes in existing pore space of sandstones, limestones, or dolostones (U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources Assessment Team, 2013). Other lithologies such as coal, organic-rich shale, mafic rocks (i.e. basalt), and ultramafic rocks (i.e. peridotite or serpentinite) can trap CO2 through adsorption or mineralogic reaction. Before these unconventional reservoirs may be included in future national USGS assessments, it is necessary to understand more about their potential depth, geographic distribution, and the physical and chemical processes that will influence any new assessment methodologies. For CO2 adsorption in coal and organic-rich shale, these issues include the potential of dissolved organics in CO2-saturated coal or organic-rich shale to become mobilized and mixed with groundwater, the swelling behavior of the coal matrix and loss of permeability in CO2-saturated coal, and the effects of injected CO2 on existing microbial methane producing populations. For mafic or ultramafic storage, where CO2 reacts to form stable carbonates, a volume assessment would likely depend more heavily on cation content in basalts (different compositions would yield different reaction volumes), phases present (e.g. olivine or serpentine) in ultramafics, fracture content (a greater fracture density would allow greater surface area of reaction), and water quality. There is a considerable amount of currently funded research on CO2 storage in these reservoirs. Technological advances such as directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing may help to increase CO2 storage potential in these unconventional reservoirs.

Injection of carbon dioxide into coal and fractured organic-rich shale is one option considered for long-term storage of greenhouse gases, as CO2 is strongly adsorbed onto organic matter and is known to physically displace methane. Many of these coal bed and shale reservoirs (e.g. San Juan Basin, Powder River Basin) also contain active microbial communities that naturally convert CO2 and hydrogen (H2) into methane (CH4). What will the fate be of injected CO2 into organic-rich reservoirs? In addition, what effect will CO2 injection have on the release of trace metals and organics from coal seams?

The objectives of this research are to compile relevant information summarizing the state of knowledge concerning the use of coal beds, shale, and mafic/ultramafic rocks as potential reservoirs for the long-term storage of CO2, and to use this information to prepare preliminary methodologies to assess the potential for CO2 storage in these reservoirs. Initial products will be national maps showing the location and other available data (thickness for example) for deep (>3,000 ft; >914 m) coal beds and organic-rich shale that may be available for CO2 storage. At depths greater than 3,000 ft (914 m), CO2 will remain in a liquid phase and is the optimal minimum CO2 storage depth. Other planned products include a map that updates previous USGS and other compilations will show the location of basaltic and ultramafic rocks that may be available for CO2 storage. These investigations will allow the USGS Carbon Sequestration – Geologic Research and Assessments project to develop preliminary CO2 storage assessment methodologies for coal beds, shale deposits, and mafic/ultramafic rocks. Any research initiatives to quantify the potential effects of CO2 injection into organic-rich intervals will be coordinated with the Origin and Controls on Microbial Gas Accumulations task in the USGS Energy Program Geochemistry of Solid Fuels project.

Contact: Margo Corum
Email: mcorum@usgs.gov

Induced seismicity associated with CO2 geologic storage

Induced seismicity associated with CO2 geologic storage

Induced seismicity associated with CO2 geologic storage

In recent years, the United States has expanded the use of technologies that involve injection (and in some cases associated production) of fluid at depth to meet future energy needs, limit emissions of greenhouse gases, and safely dispose of wastewater. To varying degrees, the injection and production practices employed in these technologies have the potential to introduce significant seismic hazards (see the recent report by the National Research Council, 2012; “Induced seismicity potential in energy technologies”). The significance of induced seismicity associated with wastewater disposal from natural gas production is highlighted by the 2008 (magnitude 3.3 or M3.3) and 2009 earthquake sequence near the Dallas-Fort Worth airport and by the 2011 seismicity induced by the deep injection of wastewater near Guy, Arkansas (M4.7) and Youngstown, Ohio (M4.0). Likewise, there is a potential seismic hazard associated with geologic carbon sequestration projects, which could involve the injection of vast quantities of liquid CO2 into sedimentary basins located in or near major urban centers of the eastern and central United States (National Research Council, 2012).

As a national science agency, the USGS is responsible for assessing hazard from earthquakes throughout the United States. The USGS studies induced seismicity across the spectrum of energy issues: carbon sequestration, geothermal energy, and conventional and unconventional oil and gas. In the central and eastern United States, earthquakes induced by fluid injection activities contribute significantly to the total seismic hazard, partly because the modern boom in oil and gas production is taking place in this vast region and also because the background level of seismicity is relatively low in this geologically stable part of the country. This research effort, also supported by the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program ("Induced Earthquakes webpage"), will conduct interdisciplinary research on the potential for induced seismicity related to geologic CO2 storage. The primary focus of the research will be on the installation and operation of an independent USGS seismic monitoring network at the largest operating underground CO2 injection and storage facility in the U.S., located in Decatur, Illinois (see project website). Data collected from the USGS seismic monitoring installation at Decatur will be used to interpret the potential seismic hazard associated with geologic CO2 sequestration in the Illinois Basin and in similar geologic settings.

The primary objectives of this research are to develop a better understanding of the physical processes responsible for seismicity induced by deep CO2 injection, develop procedures to quantify the resulting seismic hazards, and help design appropriate mitigation strategies. Achieving these goals will require communication of research results and related information between the USGS and other Federal and non-Federal organizations working on this issue. There are only limited publically available data that can be used to assess the seismic risk associated with CO2 injection; therefore, new seismic monitoring data are needed from areas with active CO2 injection projects.

Some of the key questions that arise in connection with CO2 injection at Decatur are as follows:

1. What magnitude-frequency distribution of induced earthquakes, including the maximum magnitude, is likely to result from the injection of approximately 1 million metric tons of supercritical CO2 into the Mt. Simon Sandstone during the initial 3-year test?

2. What will be the seismic consequences during the second phase of CO2 sequestration at Decatur, proposed to begin in 2014, when three times as much carbon dioxide will be injected down a nearby well?

3. What is the likelihood of pore pressure increase due to high-volume injection being transmitted into the pre-Cambrian basement, where there may be hidden faults that might be prone to reactivation?

4. How can knowledge of the in-situ stress field, geologic/hydrologic structure, rock mechanical properties, and injection parameters in relation to the observed seismicity be used to understand the physical processes controlling induced seismicity at Decatur? Can this knowledge be used to change the operational parameters of CO2 injection (for example, well placement, wellhead injection rates/pressures) to reduce the seismic hazards posed by geologic CO2 sequestration?

To investigate these scientific questions, the USGS will conduct seismic monitoring and related studies near the Illinois Basin - Decatur Project (IBDP) CO2 injection site, located in Decatur, Illinois. The IBDP, operated by the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium, with funding from the Department of Energy and industry partners, is conducting a five-year test to inject industrial CO2 into a deep saline formation (Mt. Simon Sandstone) in the Illinois Basin. Injection of CO2 started in November 2011 at a rate of approximately 1,000 metric tons per day, and by the end of 2014 the IBDP plans to inject a total of about 1 million metric tons of CO2. A second injection well operated by a government-industry consortium led by Archer Daniels Midland, the Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Project, is scheduled to be completed at Decatur in mid-2014 (pending permit approvals), to accommodate an increase in CO2 injection rate of up to 1 million metric tons per year for an additional three years.

There are multiple reasons for concentrating our efforts on the Decatur site. First, Decatur is the first (and, to date, only) site in the U.S. with high-volume CO2 injection into a regionally extensive, undisturbed saline basal aquifer. Such conditions raise the likelihood of fault reactivation by increasing the pore pressure above background levels. Second, the geologic setting at Decatur is a potential candidate for inducing slip along deep hidden faults, due to the Mt. Simon Sandstone resting directly on top of the pre-Cambrian basement. Third, the Decatur Project is intended to test the feasibility of numerous future, larger-scale CO2 injection activities in the Illinois Basin (e.g., FutureGen project) and in similar geologic settings elsewhere.

Contact: Stephen Hickman
Email: hickman@usgs.gov

Data

Downloadable Geologic CO2 Sequestration Data

A list of downloadable Geologic CO2 Sequestration spatial data and associated geologic reports is available here.

Geologic CO2 Sequestration Interactive Web Map

Click here to launch the Geologic CO2 Sequestration interactive web map  

Visit our interactive web map that includes investigated basins, assessed areas, stratigraphic columns, and well density information.

 

Multimedia

USGS Video:

Climate Connections
http://gallery.usgs.gov/video_tags/ClimateConnections/list/_/1

The Potential Effects of Elevated CO2 and Climate Change on Coastal Wetlands
http://gallery.usgs.gov/videos/357

Ocean Acidification: Research on Top of the World
http://gallery.usgs.gov/videos/430

USGS Public Lecture Series: Climate Change 101
http://gallery.usgs.gov/videos/179

USGS Public Lecture Series: Watching Nature's Clock: A Citizen-Scientist Effort to Track Seasonal Signs of Climate Change
http://gallery.usgs.gov/videos/117

USGS Public Lecture Series: Baked Alaska--What's Happening to the Glaciers in Alaska?
http://gallery.usgs.gov/videos/180

USGS Audio:

Can We Move Carbon from the Atmosphere and into Rocks?
USGS Podcast (Episode 89)

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Public Lecture Sneak Peek: Soils, Carbon, and the Global exCHANGE
USGS Podcast (Episode 252)

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Sand Dunes on the Loose Due to Climate Change
USGS Podcast (Episode 268)

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New Climate Change Forecasts
USGS Podcast (Episode 283)

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USGS Slideshows:

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Page Last Modified: Tuesday, December 09, 2014

 

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