- Copyright ©2012. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists/Division of Environmental Geosciences. All rights reserved
Concerns about potential climate change related to greenhouse gas emissions have spurred researchers across the world to assess the viability of geologic storage of CO2. In the Illinois Basin in the United States, the Cambrian Mount Simon Sandstone has been targeted as a reservoir for carbon capture and storage (CCS). In this CCS system, the Eau Claire Formation is expected to serve as the primary seal to prevent upward migration of the CO2 plume; however, little work has been done to specifically determine how well it will function as a seal. Although the lateral extent and thickness of the Eau Claire Formation, along with its generally low permeability, certainly make it a prime candidate to serve in this capacity, the primary depositional fabric and mineralogy, which are the fundamental controls on the petrophysical charter of this unit, remain poorly constrained. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to investigate the lithologic, mineralogical, and petrophysical properties of the Eau Claire Formation in an effort to characterize its potential as a functional seal in a CCS system. Sixty-six core-derived Eau Claire Formation samples from seven wells within the Illinois Basin are described using a combination of petrography, reflectance spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction, geochemical, and petrophysical analyses. These analyses show that the Eau Claire Formation contains five different lithofacies (sandstone, clean siltstone, muddy siltstone, silty mudstone, and shale) with fine-scale heterogeneities in fabric and mineralogy that greatly influence the petrophysical properties. Porosity, permeability, and entry-pressure data suggest that some, but not all, lithofacies within the Eau Claire Formation have the capability to serve as a suitable CCS seal. Abundant authigenic minerals and dissolution textures indicate that multiple generations of past fluid-rock interactions have occurred within the Eau Claire Formation, demonstrating that much of the formation has behaved as a fluid conduit instead of as a seal. Minerals that would be potentially reactive in a CCS system (including carbonate, glauconite, and chlorite) are common in the Eau Claire Formation. Dissolution of these and other phases in the presence of carbonic acid could potentially jeopardize the sealing integrity of the unit. Although complexities in the sealing properties exist, the dynamics of the CCS system and the potential for precipitation of new minerals should allow the Eau Claire Formation to serve as an adequate seal.