Three different outcrops are selected in this study, each representing a shallow-marine system with varying heterogeneity provided by siliciclastic–carbonate mixing that may form a small or large stratigraphic trap. The impact of these styles of mixed facies on CO2 storage is relatively poorly known. This study demonstrates the significance of these systems for safe CO2 geological storage, as stratigraphic traps are likely to be a significant feature of many future storage sites. The three 3D models are based on: (1) the Grayburg Formation (USA), which displays spatial permeability linked to variations in the mixture of siliciclastic–carbonate sediments; (2) the Lorca Basin outcrop (Spain), which demonstrates the interfingering of clastic and carbonate facies; and (3) the Bridport Sand Formation outcrop (UK), which is an example of a layered reservoir and has thin carbonate-cemented horizons. This study demonstrates that facies interplay and associated sediment heterogeneity have a varying effect on fluid flow, storage capacity and security. In the Grayburg Formation, storage security and capacity are not controlled by heterogeneity alone but are influenced mainly by the permeability of each facies (i.e. permeability contrast), the degree of heterogeneity and the relative permeability characteristic of the system. In the case of the Lorca Basin, heterogeneity through interfingering of the carbonate and clastic facies improved the storage security regardless of their permeability. For the Bridport Sand Formation, the existence of extended sheets of cemented carbonate contributed to storage security but not storage capacity, which depends on the continuity of the sheets. These mixed systems especially minimize the large buoyancy forces that act on the top seal and reduce the reliance of the storage security on the overlying cap rock. They also increase the contact area between the injected CO2 and brine, thereby promoting the CO2 dissolution processes. Overall, reservoir systems with mixed carbonate–siliciclastic facies contribute to improving the safe and effective storage of CO2.
Thematic collection: This article is part of the Geoscience for CO2 storage collection available at: https://www.lyellcollection.org/cc/geoscience-for-co2-storage