Simulations of CO2 storage in aquifer models with top surface morphology and transition zones

When investigating the storage of CO2 in deep saline formations, many studies assume a smooth, abrupt interface between the storage and the sealing formations. Typically, though, the surface is irregular, due to sedimentological and stratigraphic effects or structural deformation. In this study, the area where the CO2 migrates beneath the caprock is investigated. A set of numerical simulations were conducted to investigate the impacts of various factors on CO2 storage, such as top morphology, tilt, kv/kh ratio and the presence of a transition zone, where there is a gradational change from storage formation to caprock.

In the models tested, the kv/kh ratio was most important during the injection period, but after injection ceased, the tilt was more important. The amplitude of the ridges, which were used to represent the top morphology, did not have a large effect but, as expected hindered or encouraged migration depending on whether they were perpendicular or parallel to the tilt. A transition zone can increase the security of storage by lessening the amount of CO2 accumulating underneath the caprock. Therefore it is important to characterise the interface in terms of the size of irregularities and also in terms of the existence of any transition zone. The latter has not been addressed in previous works. A simple formula was derived to predict the limiting tilt for trapping to occur in models with a sinusoidal interface with wavelength, λ, and amplitude, A. Although this is a simplified approach, it provides a means of assessing whether the topography of the top surface will give rise to significant trapping or not.