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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2020-12
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2020-12
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 10 Feb 2020

Submitted as: research article | 10 Feb 2020

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A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal SE and is expected to appear here in due course.

Stress field orientation controls fault leakage at a natural CO2 reservoir

Johannes M. Miocic1, Gareth Johnson2, and Stuart M. V. Gilfillan3 Johannes M. Miocic et al.
  • 1Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Freiburg, Albertstr. 23b, 792104 Freiburg, Germany
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Strathclyde, James Weir Building, Glasgow, G1 1XJ, UK
  • 3School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Grant Institute, James Hutton Road, The King’s Buildings, Edinburgh, EH9 3FE, UK

Abstract. Travertine deposits at the St. Johns Dome natural CO2 reservoir in Arizona, USA, document a long (> 400 ka) history of surface leakage of CO2 from a subsurface reservoir. Travertine deposits are concentrated along surface traces of faults implying that there has been a structural control on the migration pathway of CO2 rich fluids. Here, for the first time, we combine slip tendency and fracture stability to analyse the geomechanical stability of the reservoir-bounding Coyote Wash Fault for three different stress fields and predict areas with high leakage risks. We find that these areas coincide with the travertine deposits on the surface indicating that high permeability pathways as a result of critically stressed fracture networks exist in both fault damage zones and around a fault tip. We conclude that these structural features control leakage. Importantly, we find that even without in-situ stress field data the known leakage points can be predicted using geomechanical analyses, despite the complex tectonic setting. Thus, even though acquiring high quality stress field data for secure subsurface CO2 or energy storage is a must, a first order assessment of leakage risks during site selection can be made with limited stress field knowledge.

Johannes M. Miocic et al.

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Johannes M. Miocic et al.

Johannes M. Miocic et al.

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Short summary
At the St. Johns Dome, Arizona, CO2 is naturally occurring in the subsurface but there are travertine rocks on the surface which are an expression of CO2 leakage to the surface. These travertine deposits occur along faults, zones where the rock layers are fractured and displaced. In our research we use geomechanical analysis to show that the CO2 leakage occurs at points where the faults are likely to be permeable due to the orientation of the geological stress field in the subsurface.
At the St. Johns Dome, Arizona, CO2 is naturally occurring in the subsurface but there are...
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