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Solid Earth An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 21 Mar 2019

Research article | 21 Mar 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Solid Earth (SE).

Uncertainty in fault seal parameters: implications for CO2 column height retention and storage capacity in geological CO2 storage projects

Johannes M. Miocic1, Gareth Johnson2, and Clare E. Bond3 Johannes M. Miocic et al.
  • 1Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Freiburg, Albertstr. 23b, 792104 Freiburg, Germany
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Strathclyde, James Weir Building, Glasgow, G1 1XJ, UK
  • 3School of Geosciences, Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology, Meston Building, Aberdeen University, Aberdeen AB24 3UE, UK

Abstract. Faults can act as barriers to fluid flow in sedimentary basins, hindering the migration of buoyant fluids in the subsurface, trapping them in reservoirs and facilitating the build-up of vertical fluid columns. The maximum height of these columns is reliant on the retention potential of the sealing fault with regards to the trapped fluid. Several different approaches for the calculation of maximum supported column height exist for hydrocarbon systems. Here, we translate these approaches to the trapping of carbon dioxide by faults and asses the impact of uncertainties in i) the wettability properties of the fault rock, ii) fault rock composition, and iii) reservoir depth, on retention potential. In similarity to hydrocarbon systems, uncertainties associated with the wettability of a CO2-brine-fault rock system for a given reservoir have less of an impact on column heights than uncertainties of fault rock composition. However, the wettability of the carbon dioxide system is highly sensitive to depth, with a large variation in possible column height predicted at 1000m and 2000m depth, the likely depth range for carbon storage sites. In contrast to hydrocarbon systems higher phyllosilicate entrainment into the fault rock may reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that can be securely retained. Our results show that if approaches developed for fault seal in hydrocarbon systems are translated, without modification, to carbon dioxide systems the capacity of carbon storage sites will be inaccurate, and the predicted security of storage sites erroneous.

Johannes M. Miocic et al.
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Johannes M. Miocic et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
When carbon dioxide is introduced into the subsurface it will migrate upwards and can encounter faults, which, depending on their hydrogeological properties and composition, can form barriers or pathways for the migrating fluid. We analyse uncertainties associated with these properties in order to better understand the implications for the retention of CO2 in the subsurface. We show that faults that form seals for other fluids may not be seals for CO2, which has implications for storage sites.
When carbon dioxide is introduced into the subsurface it will migrate upwards and can encounter...