The Arizona Geological Survey has completed a study of an area near Holbrook, Arizona, for its suitability to store carbon dioxide. The new study is “An evaluation of carbon dioxide sequestration potential of the Permian Cedar Mesa Sandstone, northeastern Arizona.”
This complements a previous study of suitability of the Tucson Basin to store carbon dioxide. (See my report of that study here)
The new study area is just northwest of Holbrook (see map below). The Holbrook-Springerville area contains resources of helium, potash, and mineable carbon dioxide.
The AZGS press release for this new study reads:
The potential role of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions from coal fired power plants and other industrial plants in global climate change is driving studies of sedimentary basins in Arizona for their carbon sequestration potential.
A new Arizona Geological Survey study, “An evaluation of carbon dioxide sequestration potential of the Permian Cedar Mesa Sandstone, northeastern Arizona”, by the Arizona Geological Survey shows that the Cedar Mesa Sandstone on the southwestern Colorado Plateau of northeastern Arizona has promise as a potential geologic repository of anthropogenic carbon dioxide.
The authors of the report, Steve Rauzi and Jon Spencer, used well logs for 755 drill holes to evaluate the extent, depth, and thickness of Paleozoic and Mesozoic strata in the subsurface centered on Black Mesa Basin and the area to the northwest around the town of Page.
The Cedar Mesa Sandstone became the focus of attention because: 1) the top of the formation is below 3000 feet depth, the minimum depth necessary to maintain carbon dioxide in a dense near liquid state; 2) estimates of effective porosity, i.e., pore space, indicate that there are between 30 cubic km and 80 cubic km of pore space in the Cedar Mesa Sandstone. The fraction of pore-space volume accessible to carbon dioxide injection is estimated to be approximately 0.5% to 5%, or 0.15 cubic km to 4.3 cubic km. So 0.114 to 3.24 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide could be sequestered in the Cedar Mesa Sandstone at a density of ~ 750 kg/cubic meter.
A condition of any geologic repository for carbon dioxide is that the groundwater salinity in the potential repository be such that the water is not potable. In the Black Mesa Basin, groundwater salinity would have to be determined before any action was taken.
The Rocky Mountain Carbon Capture and Sequestration (RMCCS) is a partnership of four western U.S. States (Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona) and private industry studying the CO2 sequestration potential of select sedimentary rocks on the Colorado Plateau.
Funding for this program was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory under award number DE-FE-0001812 to the University of Utah. Funding for the Arizona Geological Survey study was provided by a subaward agreement with the University of Utah.
As I have written in a previous post: Clean Coal: Boon or Boondoggle?, “While carbon capture and storage (CCS) may be technologically possible, it makes no sense either economically or scientifically. It is a solution seeking a problem; it is utter wastefulness.” The whole idea results from the still unproven contention that carbon dioxide makes a major contribution to global warming. CCS schemes also provide no proof that they would make a measurable difference. Furthermore, carbon dioxide is a salable commodity; it is used by the oil industry to flush oil out of the rocks. Why bury it first?
Readers should note that it is not within the purview of the Arizona Geological Survey to pass judgment on the wisdom of such programs, but only to provide technical advice concerning the geologic suitability of certain basins to provide the proper geologic conditions.