Elucidating geochemical response of shallow heterogeneous aquifers to CO2 leakage using high-performance computing: Implications for monitoring of CO2 sequestration

Alexis K. Navarre-Sitchler, Reed M. Maxwell, Erica R. Siirila, Glenn E. Hammond, Peter C. Lichtner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Predicting and quantifying impacts of potential carbon dioxide (CO2) leakage into shallow aquifers that overlie geologic CO2 storage formations is an important part of developing reliable carbon storage techniques. Leakage of CO2 through fractures, faults or faulty wellbores can reduce groundwater pH, inducing geochemical reactions that release solutes into the groundwater and pose a risk of degrading groundwater quality. In order to help quantify this risk, predictions of metal concentrations are needed during geologic storage of CO2. Here, we present regional-scale reactive transport simulations, at relatively fine-scale, of CO2 leakage into shallow aquifers run on the PFLOTRAN platform using high-performance computing. Multiple realizations of heterogeneous permeability distributions were generated using standard geostatistical methods. Increased statistical anisotropy of the permeability field resulted in more lateral and vertical spreading of the plume of impacted water, leading to increased Pb2+ (lead) concentrations and lower pH at a well down gradient of the CO2 leak. Pb2+ concentrations were higher in simulations where calcite was the source of Pb2+ compared to galena. The low solubility of galena effectively buffered the Pb2+ concentrations as galena reached saturation under reducing conditions along the flow path. In all cases, Pb2+ concentrations remained below the maximum contaminant level set by the EPA. Results from this study, compared to natural variability observed in aquifers, suggest that bicarbonate (HCO3-) concentrations may be a better geochemical indicator of a CO2 leak under the conditions simulated here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


  • CO sequestration
  • Groundwater
  • High-performance computing
  • Lead
  • Leakage
  • Reactive-transport modeling


Dive into the research topics of 'Elucidating geochemical response of shallow heterogeneous aquifers to CO<sub>2</sub> leakage using high-performance computing: Implications for monitoring of CO<sub>2</sub> sequestration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this