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Mobilization of trace metals from caprock and formation rocks at the Illinois Basin - Decatur Project demonstration site under geological carbon dioxide sequestration conditions

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 00:15 authored by Shao, H, Freiburg, JT, Peter Berger, Taylor, AH, Cohen, HF, Locke, RA
One concern for geologic CO2 sequestration is the potential leakage of CO2 or CO2-saturated brine containing trace metals into overlying aquifers, which poses the risk of adversely affecting underground sources of drinking water. In this work, rock and brine samples collected in the Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP), a large-scale geological CO2 sequestration demonstration project in Decatur, Illinois, USA, as well as synthetic brine samples were used to understand the mobilization of trace metals as a result of CO2–rock–brine interactions under IBDP-specific conditions (50 °C and 20.6 MPa). Rock sample characterization indicated that, at the IBDP site, trace metal concentrations were greatest in cap rock samples from the Eau Claire Formation, compared with those from formations above and below this Formation. The natural brine samples collected from the Mt. Simon Sandstone reservoir were highly reducing and saline, with trace metal concentrations up to 680 times greater than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-prescribed drinking water standards. Batch leaching experiments indicated that both trace metal mobilization from rock and immobilization from the brine occurred when high-pressure CO2 was introduced into the rock-brine system. The amounts of metals mobilized from the rock generally accounted for <5% of the total metals in the rock, but for some metals, including Ni, Pb, and Tl, up to 63% of the metals in the rock were mobilized to the brine. Leaching of trace metals into synthetic brines was different from that into the natural brine. The results of this study provided current information on the trace element sources and will help in risk simulations and experimental design to further evaluate potential impact of leakage on groundwater quality, which is important for future GCS projects to consider for monitoring and containment assurance purposes.


Publication title

Chemical Geology



Article number









School of Natural Sciences


Elsevier Science Bv

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Po Box 211, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1000 Ae

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Socio-economic Objectives

Management of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation