The geologic storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) is increasingly being recognized as a suitable means of sequestering this greenhouse gas. The Piedmont and Coastal Plain physiographic provinces of the eastern United States contain a large number of greenhouse gas emissions sources, such as power plants and other industrial facilities, but little work has been carried out to examine the potential of local geologic carbon storage.

In order to address this issue, a preliminary investigation into the carbon sequestration potential within the Virginia Piedmont and Coastal Plain has been conducted. This paper builds on previous work directed by the Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (SECARB) and the Southern States Energy Board (SSEB) in conjunction with the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG), examining potential sinks for geologic storage of carbon dioxide generated by power plants in the Southeastern region of the U.S.

Detailed geologic characterization has been carried out, which investigated formations with 1) suitable porosity, permeability, and favorable injectivity, 2) favorable storage capacity characteristics, 3) suitable mineralogical properties, and 4) overlying geologic seals to prevent the vertical movement of the injected CO2. These characteristics were evaluated based on publicly available subsurface geologic information, published maps and cross-sections, available core, and wireline log data. The suitability characteristics for the potential carbon sinks are based on the specific criteria established in the previous Coastal Characterization Studies for the Carolinas and Georgia.

Based on the regional investigation, it was determined that the presence of Mesozoic-age sedimentary basins, namely the Taylorsville and Richmond Basins, and, offshore, the Potomac aquifer, provided the most suitable potential reservoirs for large-scale storage of CO2. In addition to the geologic characterization, a cost analysis was conducted for source-to-sink matching. This was completed in order to determine a lowest cost scenario for transport of CO2 from the producing power plant to the most suitable sequestration site. This multi-disciplinary research has been carried out by the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research (VCCER) at Virginia Tech and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME).

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