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Sequestration sites are evaluated by studying the local geological structure and confirming the presence of both a reservoir facies and an impermeable seal not breached by significant faulting. The Cambrian Mt. Simon Sandstone is a blanket sandstone that underlies large parts of Midwest United States and is this region's most significant carbon sequestration reservoir. An assessment of the geological structure of any Mt. Simon sequestration site must also include knowledge of the paleotopography prior to deposition.
Understanding Precambrian paleotopography is critical in estimating reservoir thickness and quality. Regional outcrop and borehole mapping of the Mt. Simon in conjunction with mapping seismic reflection data can facilitate the prediction of basement highs. Any potential site must, at the minimum, have seismic reflection data, calibrated with drill-hole information, to evaluate the presence of Precambrian topography and alleviate some of the uncertainty surrounding the thickness or possible absence of the Mt. Simon at a particular sequestration site. The Mt. Simon is thought to commonly overlie Precambrian basement granitic or rhyolitic rocks. In places, at least about 549 m (1800 ft) of topographic relief on the top of the basement surface prior to Mt. Simon deposition was observed. The Mt. Simon reservoir sandstone is thin or not present where basement is topographically high, whereas the low areas can have thick Mt. Simon. The paleotopography on the basement and its correlation to Mt. Simon thickness have been observed at both outcrops and in the subsurface from the states of Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Missouri.
Hannes E. Leetaru is a senior petroleum geologist at the Illinois State Geological Survey where he works in carbon sequestration. He holds a B.S. degree from State University of New York at Fredonia, an M.S. degree from Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.
John H. McBride is a professor at Brigham Young University and a research affiliate of the Illinois State Geological Survey. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Arkansas and his Ph.D. from Cornell University.