Images of climate innovation

Category: Sustainable world

Something's happening beneath my feet

What's this about?

This is not just a field but part of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's (CSIRO) In-Situ Laboratory, where a world-first experiment was soon to commence deep below the ground. CO2 was injected into a geological fault zone 330 metres beneath my feet, and we used innovative tools to closely monitor its movement.

The experiment is part of a programme that aims to develop low-carbon subsurface technologies, important for tackling climate change. 

A woman stands in a field holding a long measuring tool

More detail about the research

Where I am stood a world-first field experiment was soon to take place deep beneath my feet! This is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's (CSIRO) In-Situ Laboratory in Western Australia.

The field laboratory provides a testing ground for developing monitoring and mitigation tools for developing safe, low-carbon subsurface technologies that are important for tackling climate change. In the photograph, the white vertical pipe is for sampling soil gases, which was just one of several techniques that were used to monitor the environment at the field laboratory, before, during, and after the field experiment.

I am using GPS equipment to record the precise location of sampling points. I appear to be alone, but behind the camera is a collaborative team from around the world, all busy sampling, testing, and preparing the In-Situ Laboratory.

One month later, nearly 40 tonnes of CO2 were injected into a geological fault zone over 330 metres beneath my feet, and we used innovative tools to closely monitor its movement. The field experiment found that fibre optic sensors were able to quickly measure even very small amounts of the injected CO2. We also found that without shade tents, survey equipment soon overheats under the blazing Australian summer sun!

The outputs from CSIRO's In Situ Laboratory research is building increased confidence to drive industrial uptake and investment in low carbon subsurface technologies. The results provide fundamentally new, publicly available data for government, industry, and the international research community.

Entrant: Jennifer Roberts , University of Strathclyde

Copyright: Jennifer Roberts

Funding: CSIRO’s In-Situ Lab project was funded by the Australian Government CCS RDD Fund CCS 49360, CSIRO, Western Australia Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) and Geological Survey of Western Australia (GSWA). Jen Roberts’ collaborations with CSIRO have been supported by funding from UKCCSRC and the University of Strathclyde.

Collaborators: CSIRO Energy; Geoscience Australia; Curtin University; Class VI Solutions Inc.

Links

https://research.csiro.au/in-situ/

UKCCSRC

Researcher profile: https://www.strath.ac.uk/staff/robertsjendr/