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Reservoir and sealing properties of the Newark rift basin formations: Implications for carbon sequestration

Zakharova, Natalia; Goldberg, David S.; Olsen, Paul E.; Collins, Daniel; Kent, Dennis V.

The Newark Basin is one of the major Mesozoic rift basins along the U.S. Atlantic coast evaluated for carbon dioxide (CO2) storage potential. Its geologic setting offers an opportunity to assess both the traditional reservoir targets, e.g., fluvial sandstones, and less traditional options for CO2 storage, e.g., mafic intrusions and lavas. Select samples from the basal, predominantly fluvial, Stockton Formation are characterized by relatively high porosity (8%–18%) and air permeability (0.1–50 mD), but borehole hydraulic tests suggest negligible transmissivity even in the high-porosity intervals, emphasizing the importance of scale in evaluating res- ervoir properties of heterogeneous formations. A stratigraphic hole drilled by TriCarb Consortium for Carbon Sequestration in the northern basin also intersected numerous sandstone layers in the predominantly lacustrine Passaic Formation, characterized by core porosity and permeability up to 18% and 2000 mD. However, those layers are shallow (predominantly above 1 km in this part of the basin) and lack prominent caprock layers above. The mudstones in all three of the major sedimentary formations (Stockton, Lockatong, and Passaic) are characterized by a high CO2 sealing capacity — evaluated critical CO2 column heights exceed several kilometers. The igneous options are represented by basalt lavas, with porous flow tops and massive flow interiors, and a crystalline but often densely fractured Palisade Sill. The Newark Basin basalts may be too shallow for sequestration over most of the basin’s area, but many other basalt flows exist in similar rift basins. Abundant fractures in sedimentary and igneous rocks are predominantly closed and/or sealed by mineralization, but stress indicators suggest high horizontal compressional stresses and strong potential for reactivation. Overall, the basin potential for CO2 storage appears low, but select formation properties are promising and could be investigated in the Newark Basin or other Mesozoic rift basins with similar fill but a different structural architecture.

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