Computational Geosciences

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 909–923 | Cite as

Feasibility of CO2 migration detection using pressure and CO2 saturation monitoring above an imperfect primary seal of a geologic CO2 storage formation: a numerical investigation

  • Liwei Zhang
  • Robert Dilmore
  • Argha Namhata
  • Grant Bromhal
Original paper


A numerical model was developed to investigate the potential to detect fluid migration in a (homogeneous, isotropic, with constant pressure lateral boundaries) porous and permeable interval overlying an imperfect primary seal of a geologic CO2 storage formation. The seal imperfection was modeled as a single higher-permeability zone in an otherwise low-permeability seal, with the center of that zone offset from the CO2 injection well by 1400 m. Pressure response resulting from fluid migration through the high-permeability zone was detectable up to 1650 m from the centroid of that zone at the base of the monitored interval after 30 years of CO2 injection (detection limit = 0.1 MPa pressure increase); no pressure response was detectable at the top of the monitored interval at the same point in time. CO2 saturation response could be up to 774 m from the center of the high-permeability zone at the bottom of the monitored interval, and 1103 m at the top (saturation detection limit = 0.01). More than 6% of the injected CO2, by mass, migrated out of primary containment after 130 years of site performance (including 30 years of active injection) in the case where the zone of seal imperfection had a moderately high permeability (10− 17 m2 or 0.01 mD). Free-phase CO2 saturation monitoring at the top of the overlying interval provides favorable spatial coverage for detecting fluid migration across the primary seal. Improved sensitivity of detection for pressure perturbation will benefit time of detection above an imperfect seal.


CO2 migration Fracture Permeability Pressure Carbon sequestration Monitoring 


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The authors would like to thank Dr. Zan Wang at NETL Morgantown site for her valued suggestions on improving the paper.

Funding Information

This research was supported in part by an appointment to the National Energy Technology Laboratory Research Participation Program, sponsored by the US Department of Energy and administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE). This research was also supported in part by an appointment to Institute of Rock and Soil Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, with funding from Thousand Talent Program for Outstanding Young Scientists (Y731101B01).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory for Geo-mechanics and Geo-technical Engineering, Institute of Rock and Soil MechanicsChinese Academy of SciencesHubei ProvinceChina
  2. 2.National Energy Technology Laboratory, US Department of EnergyPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Intera Swiss BranchWettingenSwitzerland
  4. 4.National Energy Technology Laboratory, US Department of EnergyMorgantownUSA

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