New Carbon Storage Method Reduces Earthquake Risk, Study Says

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A team of researchers says it has demonstrated a method of underground carbon storage that reduces the risk of triggering earthquakes, a safety concern cited by some scientists about the emerging field of carbon capture and sequestration.

While often cited as a potentially key option in reducing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, earlier studies have suggested that the use of carbon sequestration technologies in some rock formations can result in leaks that ultimately cause minor tremors.

But in a new study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, Yale University researchers say that storing carbon in a common type of volcanic rock, known as reactive mafic rock, offers a far safer alternative.

According to their findings, injecting carbon into the mafic rock causes a chemical reaction that generates carbon minerals, creating a so-called “mineral-trapping” phenomenon that reduces fluid pressure and distributes the stress load, which in turn minimizes seismic risks.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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