Monitoring a pilot CO2 injection experiment in a shallow aquifer using 3D cross-well electrical resistance tomography
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Three dimensional electrical resistance tomography (ERT) was used to monitor a pilot CO2 injection experiment at Vrøgum, Denmark. The purpose was to evaluate the effectiveness of the ERT method for monitoring the two opposing effects from gas-phase and dissolved CO2 in a shallow unconfined siliciclastic aquifer. Dissolved CO2 increases water electrical conductivity (EC) while gas phase CO2 reduce EC. We injected 45kg of CO2 into a shallow aquifer for 48 hours. ERT data were collected for 50 hours following CO2 injection. Four ERT monitoring boreholes were installed on a 5m by 5m square grid and each borehole had 24 electrodes at 0.5 m electrode spacing at depths from 1.5 m to 13 m. ERT data were inverted using a difference inversion algorithm for bulk EC. 3D ERT successfully detected the CO2 plume distribution and growth in the shallow aquifer. We found that the changes of bulk EC were dominantly positive following CO2 injection, indicating that the effect of dissolved CO2 overwhelmed that of gas phase CO2. The pre-injection baseline resistivity model clearly showed a three-layer structure of the site. The electrically more conductive glacial sand layer in the northeast region are likely more permeable than the overburden and underburden and CO2 plumes were actually confined in this layer. Temporal bulk EC increase from ERT agreed well with water EC and cross-borehole ground penetrating radar data. ERT monitoring offers a competitive advantage over water sampling and GPR methods because it provides 3D high-resolution temporal tomographic images of CO2 distribution and it can also be automated for unattended operation. This work was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under contract DE-AC52-07NA27344. Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC. LLNL IM release#: LLNL-PROC-657944.