Environmental Geology

, Volume 54, Issue 8, pp 1635–1656 | Cite as

Site characterization for CO2 geologic storage and vice versa: the Frio brine pilot, Texas, USA as a case study

  • Christine Doughty
  • Barry M. Freifeld
  • Robert C. Trautz
Original Article


Careful site characterization is critical for successful geologic storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) because of the many physical and chemical processes impacting CO2 movement and containment under field conditions. Traditional site characterization techniques such as geological mapping, geophysical imaging, well logging, core analyses, and hydraulic well testing provide the basis for judging whether or not a site is suitable for CO2 storage. However, only through the injection and monitoring of CO2 itself can the coupling between buoyancy flow, geologic heterogeneity, and history-dependent multi-phase flow effects be observed and quantified. CO2 injection and monitoring can therefore provide a valuable addition to the site-characterization process. Additionally, careful monitoring and verification of CO2 plume development during the early stages of commercial operation should be performed to assess storage potential and demonstrate permanence. The Frio brine pilot, a research project located in Dayton, Texas (USA) is used as a case study to illustrate the concept of an iterative sequence in which traditional site characterization is used to prepare for CO2 injection and then CO2 injection itself is used to further site-characterization efforts, constrain geologic storage potential, and validate understanding of geochemical and hydrological processes. At the Frio brine pilot, in addition to traditional site-characterization techniques, CO2 movement in the subsurface is monitored by sampling fluid at an observation well, running CO2-saturation-sensitive well logs periodically in both injection and observation wells, imaging with crosswell seismic in the plane between the injection and observation wells, and obtaining vertical seismic profiles to monitor the CO2 plume as it migrates beyond the immediate vicinity of the wells. Numerical modeling plays a central role in integrating geological, geophysical, and hydrological field observations.


Geologic carbon dioxide storage Site characterization Multi-phase flow Numerical modeling Frio Formation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine Doughty
    • 1
  • Barry M. Freifeld
    • 1
  • Robert C. Trautz
    • 1
  1. 1.Earth Sciences DivisionLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeleyUSA

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