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Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 9:35 AM


BEERS, Sarah R.1, HERKELRATH, William N.1, KHARAKA, Yousif K.1, THORDSEN, James J.1, OBERDORFER, June A.2, RAUCH, Henry W.3 and AMBATS, Gil1, (1)U. S. Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025, (2)Department of Geology, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA 95192, (3)Department of Geology and Geography, West Virginia University, 330 Brooks Hall, Morgantown, WV 26506,

The Zero Emissions Research and Technology (ZERT) group, led by Lee Spangler (MSU, Bozeman, MT) is a multidisciplinary project that is developing tools for near-surface monitoring and detection of CO2 associated with deep geologic carbon sequestration. The ZERT Site resides in an agricultural field at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. To simulate a leak from a deep sequestration site, CO2 is injected into shallow groundwater through a horizontal perforated pipe situated 2-2.3 m below the ground surface. The water table is 1-1.5 m below the ground surface during the summer months.

In the summers of 2008, 2009, and 2010 the USGS investigated changes in groundwater geochemistry at the ZERT site during CO2 injections. Water samples were collected from ten monitoring wells and analyzed immediately for pH, alkalinity, and electrical conductance. Aliquots were filtered, preserved, and analyzed in the laboratory for major, minor, and trace cations and anions. A constant discharge pumping test and a natural gradient tracer test were conducted in July 2010 in order to measure hydraulic parameters.

Rapid and systematic changes were observed in the chemical composition of groundwater in response to CO2 injection. During the 2009 injection when 200 kg/d of CO2 was injected, the groundwater pH dropped to 5.8 from a background level of 6.6. Water alkalinity and electrical conductance increased (from 350 to 900 mg/L as HCO3, and from 400 to 1200 μS/cm, respectively). Results clearly show that the addition of CO2 created more acidic groundwater which facilitated the dissolution of soluble phases, most notably calcite. The increase in calcium, magnesium, and trace metals in water samples supports this conclusion. Hydraulic tests conducted in 2010 indicate lateral groundwater flow is rapid (pore water velocity ~2 m/d).

The release of CO2 into a shallow groundwater aquifer at the ZERT Site has invariably changed water chemistry including decreasing pH, and increasing the electrical conductance and alkalinity. Determining the aquifer parameters and changes in water chemistry are important for understanding the impact of a CO2 leak on groundwater.

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