Simulating and quantifying multiple natural subsea CO2 seeps at Panarea Island (Aeolian Islands, Italy) as a proxy for potential leakage from subseabed carbon storage sites

Carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and storage (CCS) has been discussed as a potentially significant mitigation option for the ongoing climate warming. Natural CO2 release sites serve as natural laboratories to study subsea CO2 leakage in order to identify suitable analytical methods and numerical models to develop best-practice procedures for the monitoring of subseabed storage sites. We present a new model of bubble (plume) dynamics, advection-dispersion of dissolved CO2, and carbonate chemistry. The focus is on a medium-sized CO2 release from 294 identified small point sources around Panarea Island (South-East Tyrrhenian Sea, Aeolian Islands, Italy) in water depths of about 40–50 m. This study evaluates how multiple CO2 seep sites generate a temporally variable plume of dissolved CO2. The model also allows the overall flow rate of CO2 to be estimated based on field measurements of pH. Simulations indicate a release of ∼6900 t y–1 of CO2 for the investigated area and highlight an important role of seeps located at >20 m water depth in the carbon budget of the Panarea offshore gas release system. This new transport-reaction model provides a framework for understanding potential future leaks from CO2 storage sites.

Gros J., Schmidt M., Dale A. W., Linke P., Vielstädte L., Bigalke N., Haeckel M., Wallmann K. & Sommer S., in press. Simulating and quantifying multiple natural subsea CO2 seeps at Panarea Island (Aeolian Islands, Italy) as a proxy for potential leakage from subseabed carbon storage sites. Environmental Science and Technology. Article (subscription required).

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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