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Title: Potential Risks of Freshwater Aquifer Contamination with Geosequestration

Substantial leakage of CO{sub 2} from deep geological strata to shallow potable aquifers is likely to be rare, but chemical detection of potential leakage nonetheless remains an integral component of any safe carbon capture and storage system. CO{sub 2} that infiltrates an unconfined freshwater aquifer will have an immediate impact on water chemistry by lowering pH in most cases and by altering the concentration of total dissolved solids. Chemical signatures in affected waters provide an important opportunity for early detection of leaks. In the presence of CO{sub 2}, trace elements such as Mn, Fe, and Ca can increase by an order of magnitude or more above control concentrations within 100 days. Therefore, these and other elements should be monitored along with pH as geochemical markers of potential CO{sub 2} leaks. Dissolved inorganic carbon and alkalinity can also be rapidly responsive to CO{sub 2} and are stable indicators of a leak. Importantly, such changes may be detectable long before direct changes in CO{sub 2} are observed. The experimental results also suggest that the relative severity of the impact of leaks on overlying drinking-water aquifers should be considered in the selection of CO{sub 2} sequestration sites. One primary selection criteria should bemore » metal and metalloid availability, such as uranium and arsenic abundance, to carefully monitor chemical species that could trigger changes above maximum contaminant levels (MCLs). Overall, the risks of leakage from underground CO{sub 2} storage are real but appear to be manageable if systems are closely monitored.« less
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Duke University
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Country of Publication:
United States