COMPUTATIONAL GEOFLUIDS RESEARCH

We specialize in developing and implementing quantitative methods to understand natural and engineered geological fluid systems. Student scholars in the Computational Geofluids Laboratory have access to a variety of field instrumentation, including a terrestrial LiDAR system with integrated thermal camera, high precision GPS, and a variety of temperature data loggers and thermal conductivity probes. The laboratory comprises both Mac and PC desktop workstations, a 36-core Linux server, and direct access to the VT Advanced Research Computing facility. We implement a variety of porous media and reactive transport simulation codes, ArcGIS 10.x, and numerous geostatistical software routines. And when packaged software does not meet our research needs, then we write our own codes.

RESEARCH PORTFOLIO

Geologic CO2 Sequestration

Carbon capture and geologic sequestration (CCS) is the process of injecting CO2 into deep geologic formations to mitigate the adverse effects of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.  Our research in this area focuses on understanding feedbacks between thermal, hydraulic, chemical & mechanical processes.

Results below illustrate four CO2 injections after 20 years. Each model is based on an equally probable permeability distribution with spatial characteristics from the Columbia River Basalt Group. For an ensemble of 50 simulations, the CO2 storage potential is ~0.85 MMT/yr from a single injector operating below the frac gradient, but the range is 0.12 - 2 MMT/yr.

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N = 3 represents parallel plate alteration

N > 3 represents stronger k alteration with mineralization in fracture. Results show how alteration reduces CO2 flux.

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Managed Aquifer Recharge

Groundwater production in the Virginia Coastal Plain is causing aquifer compaction and land subsidence in southeast Virginia. Managed aquifer recharge may offer a compelling strategy to mitigate declining land elevation while replenishing groundwater resources in the Potomac Aquifer. We're using numerical simulation to study fluid pressure propagation from managed aquifer recharge into the deep basement rocks. Simulation by undergraduate researcher, Cameron Chambers.

Injection-Induced Earthquakes

Earthquakes are now a regular occurrence across much of the mid-continent United States.  These earthquakes are often caused by oilfield wastewater disposal.  Our lab studies the geospatial characteristics of injection induced earthquakes and the hydrogeological processes that cause them.

How do wastewater injection well locations and rates relate to earthquake locations?

(click image to learn more)

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