College of Arts & Science at Miami University
Well Grounded in Geology
Geology Coursework: Saving the World
(with Tom Pyden, December 2009)
A full text transcript of the video is available below.
(In this video, Tom Pyden describes the carbon sequestration research proposal for his seismology class.)
For my seismology course today, we had to design a proposal for an experiment on something that hasn't been done before using seismology. And seismology is just looking at waves through the earth and figuring out the structure of the earth. So we decided to do a proposal on a project based on taking CO2 from the environment and storing it back into the earth. Kind of the opposite of what the oil industries do today. Now this puts a different spin, kind of, on what people think that big oil companies do. They always take it out and they're bad because they throw CO2 into the environment, but they also can take it and put it back in there.
So, our project, it was called "carbon sequestration," and that's the process of putting carbon back into the earth. So, what we did was, we looked at oceanic basalts. And we know that, naturally, in the environment basalts react with CO2 and they form stable carbonate precipitation, such as calcite minerals, like this giant crystal behind me. Once we put the CO2 into the basalt and store it there, it will precipitate minerals, like calcite, out and it will be stable in the environment. Calcite is a naturally occurring mineral so once we get the harmful CO2 into the environment it forms naturally occurring crystals, and the risk for leakage and for it to get back into the environment to cause more damage would be minimal. And that's really what we're looking for.
And we designed this project because there aren't many projects out there that have to deal with this. And this is kind of a new study. There's been no case studies done where they actually drilled in to pump CO2 into oceanic basalts. So, this is something completely new, but completely doable. It might be more expensive to do but, in the long run, it's going to be a lot better for the environment. And, hopefully, once we get into the industry, we can propose these ideas and save the world.