Geoscience Seminar: Offsetting Pennsylvania Greenhouse Gas Emissions with Carbon Sequestration

Posted on 2/28/2008 9:05:03 AM

Department of Geoscience Seminar Series: An Introduction to Geological Carbon Sequestration, with an overview of what’s being done in Pennsylvania  

Who:        John Harper of the Pennsylvania Geological Survey
Date:        March 21, 2008 3:00 p.m.
Location:  Indiana University of Pennsylvania
                 Weyandt Hall, Room 32
Contact:   For further information regarding this event, please contact the Geoscience Department at 724-357-2379 or by e-mail to

The Geoscience Department seminar, presented by John Harper of the Pennsylvania Geological Survey, will discuss subsurface carbon sequestration as a proposed technology to allow for the long-term storage of carbon emissions.  This would result in a reduction in overall greenhouse gas released to the atmosphere, potentially having an impact on global climate. 

Abstract of Talk:

Removing greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), from the atmosphere in order to affect climate change has become a long-term goal in this country as well as in many other parts of the world.  One of the ways to remove CO2 is through carbon capture and storage (CCS), which involves removing CO2 from flue gases and storing it in such a way as to keep it locked up indefinitely.  One of these ways is to sequester the CO2 in underground rock reservoirs, or “sinks.”  The primary attraction of geological sequestration is the potential for direct and long-term storage of captured CO2 emissions in close proximity to the CO2 source.  It is a proven technology in many parts of the world, especially where it is used for enhanced oil recovery.  Geological sinks include a variety of reservoirs types, each having unique opportunities as well as problems that must be considered before storage begins. 

The Pennsylvania Geologic Survey, in conjunction with the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP), has been involved in geological sequestration studies since 2003.  MRCSP is a seven-state partnership led by Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, Ohio, that includes government agencies, universities, environmental organizations, and industry from Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  MRCSP has been charged with assessing the technical potential, economic viability, and public acceptability of carbon sequestration within the region.  The region is a major source of CO2 – more than 600 stationary facilities are considered CO2 point sources, about half of which are responsible for emitting more than 800 million tons of CO2 per year.  During Phase I, the geological team studied the regional geology of the area to delineate the most promising prospective geological reservoirs and sinks for CO2 sequestration through data collection, interpretation, and mapping.  Initial results indicate that Pennsylvania’s rock reservoirs have the potential capacity to store an enormous amount of CO2

In 2006, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), parent agency of the Pennsylvania Geological Survey, began efforts to study and make recommendations for managing carbon within the state.  The main objective is to develop a meaningful carbon management plan that is compatible with the core mission programs of the department.  During this process, DCNR and its multitude of partners hope to understand and effectively exploit both terrestrial and geological sequestration opportunities within Pennsylvania, initially through encouraging (and, perhaps, helping to fund) demonstration sequestration projects, and eventually through such mechanisms as carbon credit trading.  DCNR wants to offset at least a portion of Pennsylvania's greenhouse gas emissions while capturing any potential co-benefits such as enhancing the recovery of oil and natural gas and the growth of the state’s large forest and agricultural resources.