The Eau Claire Formation of the midwestern United States was evaluated for its potential use as a confining unit (seal) overlying a sandstone reservoir to securely store injected CO2. This evaluation included: (1) lithofacies composition and distribution, (2) capillary entry pressure analysis, and (3) fluid- and fracture-pressure analysis. The regional distribution of lithofacies in the Eau Claire was evaluated by examination of core and log data from selected wells across the study area. Log data were used to define electro-lithofacies, which are spatially variable and represent a mixture of shale, siltstone, sandstone, limestone, and dolomite. Because of the significant variation in lithofacies and the complex spatial distribution, the entire interval should be considered in evaluating the seal capacity of the unit at a given locality. Mercury-injection capillary pressure (MICP) data were obtained on 17 samples of Eau Claire lithofacies ranging from muddy shale to sand/silt to evaluate the potential for capillary entry of fluids into the pore system of the lithofacies of the unit. Interpretation of these data indicated capillary failure of the muddy shale lithofacies is unlikely. However, many of the MICP samples contain millimeter-scale silt/sand interbeds, which would probably allow CO2 entry but, because these beds commonly have very limited lateral continuity, they are very unlikely to provide pathways for large-scale CO2 leakage through the interval. Evaluation of structural settings, lithostatic and existing formation aquifer pressures in the Eau Claire, in conjunction with the height of CO2 columns stored in the underlying Mount Simon Sandstone (Cambrian), suggest that fluid pressures induced by a static buoyant CO2 plume are unlikely to induce fractures in the formation. However, elevation of the aquifer pressure during injection may be capable of creating fractures within the unit.

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