The Bureau of Economic Geology The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences

 

Oriskany Formation, Appalachian Basin

(Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, and Eastern Kentucky)

General Setting

The Appalachian Basin is part of an ancient foreland basin in the eastern United States that contains a thick sequence of relatively undeformed Paleozoic strata. The basin, approximately 300 mi wide (in the north) and 600 mi long, encompasses a broad area between the Allegheny front to the east, the Cincinnati and other contiguous arches to the west, and the Canadian Shield to the north. The south portion of the basin (which in not covered in the GIS) narrows between the Nashville Dome and the Pine Mountain thrust (Schumaker, 1996). The region around Pittsburgh, Morgantown, and Cleveland is near the axis of the basin and is therefore underlain by a thick succession (>10,000 ft) of strata. Because a number of these strata are porous and permeable sandstones that are regionally continuous (Milici, 1996), they are potential targets for CO2 sequestration. Moreover, the Pittsburgh/Morgantown/Cleveland vicinity has a large concentration of CO2-producing power plants (fig. 1).

Information Search and Selection

The subsurface of this area has been well studied, the research driven by the search for domestic and industrial water supplies, petroleum, and brine disposal. Because shallow aquifers in the area contain copious water supplies, there is little need for hydrogeologic studies of deeper brine aquifers. However, oil and gas exploitation has a long history in this area and has promoted research and analysis of Appalachian Basin stratigraphy (Oliver and others, 1967; Roen and Walker, 1996).

A number of potential porous, permeable, and continuous sand units are beneath the area that could potentially be used for CO2 sequestration. These strata tend to be shallow in the west, and they progressively deepen eastward toward the Allegheny Front (east of the Allegheny Front the strata are folded and faulted). Therefore, optimal sequestration horizons vary according to the position in the basin; optimal horizons are typically older on the flanks (such as the Tuscarora, Keefer, and Oriskany Sandstones) and younger in the central basin (such as the Oriskany, Pocono, Berea, and Princeton Sandstones) (Dennison, 1975; Roen and Walker, 1996).

We selected the Lower Devonian Oriskany Sandstone to characterize in the GIS because it is widespread and porous and it occurs at a depth range conducive to CO2 sequestration over a large portion of the Appalachian Basin. Note that there are a large number of potential horizons, the Appalachian Basin stratigraphy and structure are well known (Roen and Walker, 1996), and there are a number of areas where CO2 emissions are high (fig. 1). Moreover, because the Oriskany is the principal horizon for brine disposal in western Pennsylvania, it is a proven reservoir for subsurface disposal (Steve Platt, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, personal communication, 2000).

 

Comments on Geologic Parameters

References

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Prepared by Andrew Warne.

 
 
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