Bureau of Economic Geology

Gulf Coast Carbon Center

CO2 Storage in 3D
3D Seismic

A compressed air acoustic source deployed at the Tomakomai CO2 storage demonstration project in Hokkaido, Japan.

CO2 Storage

The Bureau’s Gulf Coast Carbon Center (GCCC) is renowned internationally as one of the foremost academic research institutions investigating carbon capture and storage. In 2017, the GCCC’s Tip Meckel led a crew of 20 on a 6-day data‑collection cruise off Japan’s north island of Hokkaido. Meckel’s team arrived in Japan with unique acoustic instrumentation for three-dimensional mapping of the geology below the seafloor with ultra-high resolution.

The key to the equipment is a set of four 25-m-long streamers containing eight-channel acoustic sensors that are towed behind a research vessel. When an acoustic signal from a compressed air source is deployed, changes in the speed of the sound returning to the dense array of sensors are converted to a very fine scale 3D model of the geology beneath the seafloor.

The survey was conducted offshore from the industrial port of Tomakomai, the site of an extensive CO2 capture, transport, and injection demonstration project. At the time of the survey, approximately 65,000 tons of CO2 had been injected into a geologic formation 1,100 m below the seafloor. The ultimate goal of the project is to store 100,000 tons of CO2 per year.

The surveys conducted in 2017 were the first to attempt high-resolution subsurface imaging at an active offshore CO2 demonstration project. Obtaining such information reduces the risk of leakage and could provide an estimate of the volume of CO2 stored in the reservoir. Meckel notes that the technology is suitable for deployment at other offshore sequestration sites, including sites located in the Gulf of Mexico.

For information, please contact Tip Meckel.

University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas

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