Looking to the Jersey Shore for CO2 sequestration

Riding on the heels of Copenhagen, a study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences outlined one way the United States might address enormous CO2 emission levels. Not surprisingly, the researchers propose carbon sequestration; it is the location, however, that makes this study unique. 

Beach at Sandy Hook, New Jersey
Beach at Sandy Hook, New Jersey
Photo Credit: National Park Service

The scientists have pinpointed volcanic rock, namely basalt, along the coasts of New Jersey, New York and New England to serve as prime reservoirs for CO2 emitted by local power plants. David Goldberg and colleagues from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory say the lure of this particular site is the igneous rock. That is, when it comes to holding CO2, basalt is thought to be much more secure than the other proposed inland sites that feature shale and sandstone. In addition, say the study authors, the CO2 and basalt would react and eventually turn into limestone.

 The researchers located four areas of more than 1,000 square kilometers each off northern New Jersey, Long Island and Massachusetts. They also targeted a smaller patch under the beach of New Jersey’s Sandy Hook peninsula that has enough pore space to hold close to one billion tons of CO2-the equivalent emissions, the researchers say, of four 1-billion-watt coal-fired plants over 40 years.

Goldberg, D., Kent, D., & Olsen, P. (2010). Potential on-shore and off-shore reservoirs for CO2 sequestration in Central Atlantic magmatic province basalts Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0913721107

Author: Katie Kline

Moderator of EcoTone and ESA's communications officer.

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