Upslope plume migration and implications for geological CO2 sequestration in deep, saline aquifers

S. E. Gasda, Michael Anthony Celia, J. M. Nordbotten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Recent investigations regarding CO2 sequestration in deep saline aquifers have focused on characterization of the injected plume, its migration within the aquifer over time, and possible leakage out of the aquifer. To study these complex flow systems, simplified models are sometimes used to describe both plume evolution and the amount of leakage. Simplifications may include an assumption of perfectly horizontal geological formations, negligible capillary pressure, and symmetry of the injection plume. In this study, we explicitly test the limits of the assumption of a horizontal aquifer through numerical simulation of typical injection scenarios in continental sedimentary basins. Our approach is to simulate injection of CO2 into a confined saline aquifer for an extended period (we have used 15 years) and examine the effect of different degrees of slope, as well as other system parameters, on plume asymmetry using measures such as the location of the centroid of the CO2 plume. Dimensional analysis of this system shows that the centroid migrates upslope in proportion with buoyancy, aquifer permeability, and slope, whereas increased porosity and CO2 viscosity mitigate upslope migration of the centroid. The results of this study show that the effect of slope can be ignored for many aquifers likely to become CO2 sequestration sites in North America. However, slope will be more important for higher permeability aquifers, such as the site used in the Sleipner sequestration project in the North Sea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-16
Number of pages15
JournalIES Journal Part A: Civil and Structural Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computational Mechanics
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


  • Density-driven flow
  • Dimensional analysis
  • Geological CO sequestration
  • Two-phase flow
  • Vertically-averaged models


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