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Multiple steady states in exchange flows across faults and the dissolution of $\text{CO}_{2}$

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 March 2015

Andrew W. Woods*
BP Institute, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0EZ, UK
Marc Hesse
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA
Rachel Berkowitz
BP Institute, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0EZ, UK
Kyung Won Chang
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA
Email address for correspondence:


We develop a model of the steady exchange flows which may develop between two aquifers at different levels in the geological strata and across which there is an unstable density stratification, as a result of their connection through a series of fractures. We show that in general there are multiple steady exchange flows which can develop, depending on the initial conditions, and which may involve a net upwards or downwards volume flux. We also show that there is a family of equilibrium exchange flows with zero net volume flux, each characterised by a different interlayer flux of buoyancy. We present experiments which confirm our simplified model of the exchange flow. Such exchange flows may supply unsaturated water from a deep aquifer to drive dissolution of a structurally trapped pool of geologically stored $\text{CO}_{2}$, once the water in the aquifer containing the trapped pool of $\text{CO}_{2}$ has become saturated in $\text{CO}_{2}$, and hence relatively dense. Such exchange flows may also lead to cross-contamination of aquifer fluids, which may be of relevance in assessing risks of geological storage systems.

© 2015 Cambridge University Press 

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