Advective, Diffusive and Eruptive Leakage of CO2 and Brine within Fault Zone

Monday, 15 December 2014: 8:15 AM
Na-Hyun Jung, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, United States and Weon Shik Han, UW-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, United States
This study investigated a natural analogue for CO2 leakage near the Green River, Utah, aiming to understand the influence of various factors on CO2 leakage and to reliably predict underground CO2 behavior after injection for geologic CO2 sequestration. Advective, diffusive, and eruptive characteristics of CO2 leakage were assessed via a soil CO2 flux survey and numerical modeling. The field results show anomalous CO2 fluxes (> 10 g m-2 d-1) along the faults, particularly adjacent to CO2-driven cold springs and geysers (e.g., 36,259 g m-2 d-1 at Crystal Geyser), ancient travertines (e.g., 5,917 g m-2 d-1), joint zones in sandstone (e.g., 120 g m-2 d-1), and brine discharge zones (e.g., 5,515 g m-2 d-1). Combined to similar isotopic ratios of gas and progressive evolution of brine chemistry at springs and geysers, a gradual decrease of soil CO2 flux from the Little Grand Wash (LGW; ~36,259 g m-2 d-1) to Salt Wash (SW; ~1,428 g m-2 d-1) fault zones reveals the same CO2 origin and potential southward transport of CO2 over 10-20 km. The numerical simulations overtly exhibit lateral transport of free CO2 and CO2-rich brine from the LGW to SW fault zones through the regional aquifers (e.g., Entrada, Navajo, Kayenta, Wingate, White Rim). CO2 travels predominantly as an aqueous phase (Xco2=~0.045) as previously suggested, giving rise to the convective instability that further accelerates CO2 dissolution. While the buoyant free CO2 always tends to ascend, a fraction of dense CO2-rich brine flows laterally into the aquifer and mixes with the formation fluids during upward migration along the fault. The fault always enhances advective CO2 transport regardless of its permeability (k). However, only the low-k fault scenario engenders development of CO2 anticlinal trap within the shallow aquifers (Entrada and Navajo), concentrating high CO­­­2 fluxes (~1,273 g m-2 d-1) within the northern footwall of the LGW fault similar to the field. Moreover, eruptive CO2 leakage at a well (Crystal Geyser) solely appears under the presence of anticlinal trap. Thus, it can be concluded that the LGW fault is likely low-permeable, 0.01 md ≤ kh <0.1 md and 0.5 md ≤ kv < 1 md, which could be used as a good starting point for other studies and further improved.