Lombardi Research Group - "RISCS" – Research into Impacts and Safety in CO2 Storage
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"RISCS" – Research into Impacts and Safety in CO2 Storage

"RISCS" – Research into Impacts and Safety in CO2 Storage

The EC-funded RISCS project assessed the potential environmental impacts of leakage from geological CO2 storage. Consideration was given to possible impacts on ground water resources and both onshore and offshore near-surface ecosystems. The aim of the project was to assist storage site operators and regulators in assessing the potential impacts of leaks so that these could be considered during all phases of a storage project (project design, site characterisation, site operation, post-operation and site abandonment). A secondary objective was to inform policy makers, politicians and the general public of the feasibility and long-term benefits and consequences of large-scale CO2 capture and storage (CCS) deployment.

Our contribution

Our work focused on two main areas: i) scientific studies into the possible impact of CO2 in marine and terrestrial settings, and ii) research integration and dissemination.

Marine research was performed around the natural CO2 leaks near Panarea Island. During 4 campaigns, one for each season, detailed water column sampling was conducted to see if such leaks could harm the marine ecosystem. Results have shown that currents are very efficient in mixing the leakage signal, causing dilution which reduces impact. Only when the water column was highly stratified were elevated CO2 values (and low pH values) observed. An autonomous measurement station (developed by our team) was also deployed at the site to monitor CO2 concentrations at the seafloor, showing highly complex temporal and spatial variability.

Terrestrial research involved groundwater sampling at two sites in central Italy where natural CO2 is leaking to the surface, the Latera caldera and the San Vittorino valley. Shallow boreholes were drilled along the hydraulic gradient through zones of natural CO2 leakage to study the possible impact on groundwater quality, as an analogue for leakage from a geological CO2 storage site. This work showed the importance of the main geology of the aquifer itself, especially in terms of its pH and Eh buffering capacity. Although water directly within the leakage area was highly affected, a short distance down-gradient from the leak the measured water chemistry quickly returned to normal potable levels due to natural precipitation and sorption processes. In addition to groundwater work, we also installed a CO2 soil gas monitoring station (developed by our team) at the controlled CO2 release site ASGARD (UK), and performed soil gas and gas flux surveys within the Florina Basin (Greece) at another natural CO2 leaking site.

Regarding research integration and dissemination, our team was leader for the workpackage that organized activities both within the project and with external stakeholders. This work involved extensive travelling to dialogue with project partners, as well as the organisation of numerous workshops to help develop the main dissemination outcome of the project (“A guide to potential impacts of leakage from CO2 storage”).

General Information:



Period: January 2010 to December 2013