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

  • Andrew W. Woods (a1), Marc Hesse (a2), Rachel Berkowitz (a1) and Kyung Won Chang (a2)

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.

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
  • ISSN: 0022-1120
  • EISSN: 1469-7645
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