The importance of lithofacies control on fluid migration in heterogeneous aeolian formations for geological CO2 storage: Lessons from observational evidence and modelling of bleached palaeoreservoirs at Salt Wash Graben, Utah

Andrew Newell, Azadeh Pourmalek, Seyed M. Shariatipour, A.S Butcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Exhumed bleached palaeoreservoirs provide a means of understanding fluid flow processes in geological media because the former movement of fluids is preserved as visible geochemical changes (grey bleaching of continental red-beds). The bleached palaeoreservoirs of the Jurassic Entrada Sandstone occur in a region (Utah) where there are high fluxes of naturally-occurring CO2 and form outcrop analogues for processes related to geological storage of CO2. In this paper a bleached palaeoreservoir now exposed at outcrop is used to test the importance of geological heterogeneity on fluid flow. The bleached palaeoreservoir is developed in ‘wet aeolian’ lithofacies composed of alternating layers of sandstone and cemented muddy sandstone that range across three or more orders of magnitude in permeability. Despite these permeability contrasts the bleaching shows a remarkably uniform distribution within the palaeoreservoir that crosses lithofacies boundaries. Evidence from bleaching therefore suggests that geological heterogeneity within the range 1–103 millidarcies should not greatly impede the relatively uniform distribution of low-viscosity CO2 charged fluids throughout a reservoir: a conclusion that has been substantiated here by flow modelling. Residence time is an important factor and where flows are transient the distribution of bleaching and modelling shows that flows are confined to high-permeability lithofacies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102841
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
Early online date3 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019



  • Aeolian
  • Bleached palaeoreservoir
  • CO storage
  • Entrada Sandstone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Energy(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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