Geological risk and uncertainty for underground storage of buoyant fluids, lessons learned in Illinois

Hannes E Leetaru, Sherilyn Williams-Stroud, Jared Freiburg, John McBride, Steve Whittaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper describes selected natural gas storage and carbon capture and storage (CCS) case studies from Illinois, USA, their general applicability to subsurface buoyant fluid storage, and summarizes lessons learned. In Illinois, a 70-year history of sustained natural gas storage has provided a foundational understanding of risk associated with using the subsurface for storing buoyant fluids. In addition to natural gas storage, over 3 million tonnes of CO2 have been injected into the Cambrian Mt Simon Sandstone at the Decatur, IL CCS project site. In Illinois, many of the storage projects are in the Mt Simon Sandstone, a saline (aquifer) reservoir. In gas storage fields the characterization of faulting and seal properties has historically not been adequate. Identification of Precambrian palaeotopography is essential when completing initial site assessment in reservoirs close to the Precambrian contact. The presence of basement palaeotopographical highs increases the risk of not having a storage reservoir and increased chance of induced seismicity. The Cambrian Mt Simon Sandstone of the Illinois Basin has some of the most suitable strata in the midwest-ern USA for the sequestration of CO2 and storage of energy in the form of natural gas. The improved understanding gained from natural gas storage and from carbon sequestration is also directly applicable to assessing the potential of emerging energy storage technologies, such as compressed air energy storage (CAES) and geological hydrogen storage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-459
Number of pages11
JournalGeological Society Special Publication
StatePublished - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Geology


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