Geology Projects 2013
A Geochemical Study of the Suitability of San Joaquin Valley Geological Formations for Carbon Sequestration
Faculty Mentors - Dr. Dirk Baron and Dr. Patrick Mickler
Concern that the rising level of CO2 gas in the atmosphere is causing global warming has led to
many efforts worldwide to reduce CO2 emissions. Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) is one
new technology to accomplish this while still meeting energy demands of our growing economy.
CCS is the capture of CO2 from power plants and its injection as a supercritical fluid into deep
geologic formations. Two CCS projects are currently proposed for Kern County. One is the Hydrogen Energy of California
power plant (see http://hydrogenenergycalifornia.com/ ) near the Elk Hills Oil Field in western Kern
County. Carbon dioxide from the plant will be injected at Elk Hills. This has the added benefit that the supercritical CO2 helps produce residual oil, a process called Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). The other project is the Kimberlina Clean Energy Systems(http://www.cleanenergysystems.com/kimberlina.html ) power plant just north of Bakersfield, off Highway 99. Carbon
dioxide from this plant will be injected into a deep saline groundwater aquifer.
This project is an experimental study of the geochemical reactions between supercritical CO2 and
the geologic formations and fluids into which CO2 will be injected. This information is needed to
evaluate migration and leakage potential of supercritical CO2 injected deep underground and
possible adverse effects on the geologic formations such as loss of porosity or release of toxic trace
Participants will work closely with professors and college students on the selection of geologic
samples for the study from the California Well Core Repository on the CSUB campus and on the
design and initial implementation of the geochemical experiments. Participants will have a chance
to work in the state-of-the-art laboratories in the Department of Geological Sciences, including a
new scanning electron microscopy lab and the trace-element geochemistry lab. They will learn
about the new CCS technologies that are poised to have a large impact on our region and the
petroleum industry. They will use a wide variety of modern research instrumentation. This project
will go on for several years, later phases supported by the National Science Foundation, but a good
part of the groundwork will be done by this REVs-UP program.
More information about CCS from two workshops that the CSUB Geological Sciences department
2010 Workshop http://www.csub.edu/~dbaron/CSUB_CCS.htm
2009 Workshop http://www.csub.edu/~dbaron/CCS-workshop.htm
Watch a video about the Hydrogen Energy of California project here:
Sediment Core Analysis: Applications in Petroleum Geology
Faculty Mentors - Dr. Robert Horton
Thick sequences of sediments in the San Joaquin Valley of California are host to the regionís major oil resources. This project will provide an introduction to the techniques that geologists use to characterize sediments and their potential as petroleum reservoirs. Participants will then work on applied research project in petroleum geology with sediment samples from the San Joaquin Valley oil fields. Participants will use the CSUB Geology Departmentís state-of-the-art research labs including the new scanning electron microscopy lab. We will also visit Chevronís Kern River Oil Field. Participants will be involved in cutting-edge research of significance to the local petroleum community. We will be studying core samples from local oil fields to determine the nature and distribution of the pore spaces in which oil resides and for their potential for CO2 sequestration.
SEM image of sand grains from a Kern County oil field showing an open pore network favorable for the accumulation and extraction of petroleum.
Atmospheric teleconnections between Western North America and the North Atlantic Region 35-40 thousand years ago.
Faculty Mentor - Dr. Rob Negrini
Computer climate models show that natural lake systems in western North America should respond to hemisphere-wide climate changes during the last glacial maximum by increasing in size during warm wet periods and decreasing in size during cold dry periods. Preliminary work has shown that this is indeed the case. Arctic organisms dominate the micropaleontology of sediments from Summer Lake, Oregon during periods that correspond to cold temperatures in the North Atlantic as shown by oxygen isotopes in the Greenland ice core data and vice versa.
In this project participants will test the above results using geochemical (carbon/nitrogen ratios, total inorganic carbon) and physical (grain size) measurements conducted on instruments owned and run by the CSUB NSF CREST center. The materials used will be from core sediments already dated by paleomagnetic secular variation and radiocarbon dating.
Students involved in this research will gain skills related to research design, handling of critical materials and use of state-of-the-art laboratory instrumentation. Questions regarding this research activity should be directed to Dr. Rob Negrini, Department of Geological Sciences, 654-2185 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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for the respective projects. Please feel free to contact the program director with any
questions you might have.