Observational evidence confirms modelling of the long-term integrity of CO2-reservoir caprocks

27 Nov 2017

Storage of anthropogenic CO2 in geological formations relies on a caprock as the primary seal preventing buoyant super-critical CO2 escaping. Although natural CO2 reservoirs demonstrate that CO2 may be stored safely for millions of years, uncertainty remains in predicting how caprocks will react with CO2-bearing brines. This uncertainty poses a significant challenge to the risk assessment of geological carbon storage. Here we describe mineral reaction fronts in a CO2 reservoir-caprock system exposed to CO2 over a timescale comparable with that needed for geological carbon storage. The propagation of the reaction front is retarded by redox-sensitive mineral dissolution reactions and carbonate precipitation, which reduces its penetration into the caprock to ∼7 cm in ∼105 years. This distance is an order-of-magnitude smaller than previous predictions. The results attest to the significance of transport-limited reactions to the long-term integrity of sealing behaviour in caprocks exposed to CO2.