Is hazardous waste injection into basal aquifers a good idea?

The recent induced M3.8-M5.5 seismic events across the midcontinent, USA have raised concern regarding regulations for hazardous waste injection. It is also important to note that in the midcontinent region, the Illinois Basin is the main target for storing CO2 up to 1 million metric tons... Full description

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Authors:Zhang, Y.; Person, M.A.; Rupp, J.; Celia, M.A.; Gable, C.W.; Bowen, B.B.; Mozley, P.S.; Evans, J.P.; Dewers, T.A.
Volume Title:AGU 2012 fall meeting
Source:American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Vol.2012; American Geophysical Union 2012 fall meeting, San Francisco, CA, Dec. 3-7, 2012. Publisher: American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, United States
Publication Date:2012
Note:In English
Record ID:2014093239
Copyright Information:GeoRef, Copyright 2020 American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by, and/or abstract, Copyright, American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, United States
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Description
The recent induced M3.8-M5.5 seismic events across the midcontinent, USA have raised concern regarding regulations for hazardous waste injection. It is also important to note that in the midcontinent region, the Illinois Basin is the main target for storing CO2 up to 1 million metric tons over a 3-year period in the CCS project of DOE. Here we present a hydrogeologic-geomechanical sensitivity study using a hybrid analytic-numerical cross-sectional model to assess a wide variety of possible failure scenarios within crystalline rocks. The hydrostratigraphic framework model we used in this study is based on the geology of the Illinois Basin. The model includes 2.8 km thick Paleozoic sedimentary aquifers and confining units underlain by 4 km of bedrock. We represented injection at 1000 gallons per minute (3785 liters per minute) into a basal sandstone aquifer (Mt. Simon Sandstone) as well as the overlying carbonate and siliciclastic reservoirs (middle aquifer: Knox Dolomite, St. Peter Sandstone, upper Ordovician Carbonates). In some scenarios, we included high/low permeability vertical and sub-horizontal thrust faults. Deviatoric pore pressures from the model were used to estimate failure along critically stressed faults within the bedrock. For a basement permeability between 10-15 m2 to 10-16 m2, injection into the basal aquifer (Mt. Simon sandstone) resulted in a failure envelop within the crystalline basement to depths of about 1.4-4 km and extending laterally up to 6 km. Including a transmissive vertical normal fault increased the depth of the failure envelope to 4 km below the base of the sedimentary pile. If a 108 order of magnitude permeability contrast exists between the thrust fault (10-10 m2) and basement rocks (10-18 m2), then pore pressures can propagate along a sub-horizontal fault about 12 km from the injection well. For middle aquifer injection, the presence of a bottom seal (Eau Claire Formation) has a prophylactic effect, preventing downward propagation of deviatoric pressures into the basement as shown in the simulation results in Figure 1.