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Carbon Sequestration monitoring using GPS

  • Principal Investigator:
    Dr. Tim Dixon, University of Southern Florida
  • UNAVCO Engineers: Sarah Doelger, Brendan Hodge, Wade Johnson
  • Dates: October 2011
  • Location: Pearland, Texas
  • Funding Source: U.S. Department of Energy

Written by Sarah Doelger


Carbon Sequestration is a process for mitigating the contribution to global warming by capturing the excess CO2 emitted from fossil fuel burning power plants (and other industrial facilities). The CO2 is captured at its source and then injected into depleted oil and gas reservoirs. However, the ramifications of long term CO2 storage are at this point uncertain. In addition, the process is expensive and could increase the fuel needs of a power plant, depending on its proximity to a storage location.


Dr. Tim Dixon from the University of Southern Florida aims to help determine the feasibility and safety of carbon sequestration by using GPS and seismology to monitor the injection of CO2 on oil fields near Houston, Texas.

In early October of 2011, UNAVCO engineers Sarah Doelger and Brendan Hodge traveled to Houston to install a network of 3 CGPS stations, directly adjacent to 3 separate CO2 injection platforms.

The following week, Sarah Doelger and UNAVCO strainmeter engineer Wade Johnson, along with researchers from the University of Miami, returned to co-locate seismometers at each CGPS site.

Data will help track any suspicious deformation or seismic activity associated with the injection process.


Dr. Dixon's research is part of a larger, US Department of Energy sponsored project for carbon storage and utilization research, which is organized into four focus areas:

  • Storage – study of the permanent underground sequestration of CO2 in geologic formations, including saline formations, oil and gas reservoirs, and unmineable coal seams
  • Monitoring, Verification and Accounting (MVA) – development and deployment of technologies that can properly track stored CO2 to ensure it is properly accounted for and will remain permanently sequestered.
  • Simulation and Risk Assessment – identifying and quantifying potential risks to humans and the environment associated with sequestration
  • CO2 Use/Reuse – investigating novel technologies that use CO2 as a feedstock, such as conversion to useable products or fuels

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Last modified: 2020-02-03  20:49:04  America/Denver