A review of natural CO2 accumulations in Europe as analogues for geological sequestration
J. Pearce, I. Czernichowski-Lauriol, S. Lombardi, S. Brune, A. Nador, J. Baker, H. Pauwels, G. Hatziyannis, S. Beaubien, E. Faber, 2004. "A review of natural CO2 accumulations in Europe as analogues for geological sequestration", Geological Storage of Carbon Dioxide, Shelagh J. Baines, Richard H. Worden
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Natural geological accumulations of carbon dioxide occur widely throughout Europe, often close to population centres. Some of these CO2 deposits leak, whereas others are sealed. Understanding these deposits is critical for selecting and designing underground storage sites for anthropogenic CO2. To provide confidence that the potential risks of geological CO2 storage are understood, geologists are required to predict how CO2 may behave once stored underground. Natural CO2 accumulations provide a unique opportunity to study long-term geochemical and geomechanical processes that may occur following geological storage of anthropogenic CO2. In addition, natural CO2 springs and gas vents can provide information on the mechanisms of gas migration and the potential effects of CO2 leakage to the surface. This paper provides a description of some natural, European CO2 occurrences.
CO2 accumulations occur in many basins across Europe. In addition, volcanic areas and seismically active areas allow CO2-rich fluids to migrate to the near surface. Many of these occur in areas that have been populated for hundreds and thousands of years.
Stratigraphic traps have allowed CO2 to accumulate below evaporite, limestone and mudstone caprocks. Comparisons between reservoir sandstone and equivalent nearby sandstones that contain no CO2 indicate that reservoir sandstones may experience increased secondary porosity development through feldspar dissolution. Where fracture reactivation allows CO2-rich fluids to migrate, limited self-sealing may take place through calcite precipitation. Gas migration experiments indicate that, due to geochemical interactions, fine-grained seals would be able to trap smaller volumes of CO2 compared to, for example CH4. In natural systems most leakage from depth occurs along fractures and is typically extremely localized on a metre-scale.
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Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main compound identified as affecting the stability of the Earth’s climate. A significant reduction in the volume of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere is a key mechanism for mitigating climate change. Geological storage of CO2, or the injection and long-term stabilization of large volumes of CO2 in the subsurface in saline aquifers, in existing hydrocarbon reservoirs or in unmineable coal seams, is one of the more technologically advanced options available. A number of studies have been carried out and are reported here. They are aimed at understanding the safety, physical and chemical behaviour and long-term fate of CO2 when stored in geological formations. Until efficient, alternative energy options can be developed, geological storage of CO2, the subject of this volume, provides a mechanism to reduce carbon emissions significantly whilst continuing to meet the global demand for energy.