Dissolution-precipitation reactions and permeability evolution from reactions of CO2-rich aqueous solutions with fractured basalt

Thursday, 17 December 2015: 14:10
3018 (Moscone West)
Rachel K Wells1, Wei Xiong1, Yeunook Bae1, Erika Sesti1, Philip A Skemer1, Daniel Giammar1, Mark Conradi1, Brian R Ellis2 and Sophia Eugenie Hayes3, (1)Washington University in St Louis, St. Louis, MO, United States, (2)University of Michigan, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ann Arbor, MI, United States, (3)Washington University in St Louis, Saint Louis, MO, United States
The injection of CO2 into fractured basalts is one of several possible solutions to mitigate global climate change; however, research on carbonation in natural basalts in relation to carbon sequestration is limited, which impedes our understanding of the processes that may influence the viability of this strategy. We are conducting bench-scale experiments to characterize the mineral dissolution and precipitation and the evolution of permeability in synthetic and natural basalts exposed to CO2-rich fluids. Analytical methods include optical and electron microscopy, electron microprobe, Raman spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and micro X-ray computed tomography (μCT) with variable flow rates. Reactive rock and mineral samples consist of 1) packed powders of olivine or natural basalt, and 2) sintered cores of olivine or a synthetic basalt mixture. Each sample was reacted in a batch reactor at 100 °C, and 100 bars CO2. Magnesite is detected within one day in olivine packed beds, and within 15 days in olivine sintered cores. Forsterite and synthetic basalt sinters were also reacted in an NMR apparatus at 102 °C and 65 bars CO2. Carbonate signatures are observed within 72 days of reaction. Longer reaction times are needed for carbonate precipitation in natural basalt samples. Cores from the Columbia River flood basalt flows that contain Mg-rich olivine and a serpentinized basalt from Colorado were cut lengthwise, the interface mechanically roughened or milled, and edges sealed with epoxy to simulate a fractured interface. The cores were reacted in a batch reactor at 50-150 °C and 100 bars CO2. At lower temperatures, calcite precipitation is rare within the fracture after 4 weeks. At higher temperatures, numerous calcite and aragonite crystals are observed within 1 mm of the fracture entrance along the roughened fracture surface. In flow-through experiments, permeability decreased along the fracture paths within a few hours to several days of flow.