How can biogeomechanical alterations in shales impact caprock integrity and CO2 storage?

Oladoyin Kolawole, Ion Ispas, Mallika Kumar, Joachim Weber, Bo Zhao, Giovanni Zanoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Shales have been a major focus of the energy industry over the past few decades. Recently, there is a paradigm shift in the energy industry to low-carbon solutions, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), to mitigate global warming caused by carbon footprint. The problem of long-term safe and efficient geological CO2 storage (GCS) and caprock integrity are some of the major challenges impeding large-scale CCS application. Here, we investigated how localized and bulk biogeomechanical alterations could potentially impact caprock integrity and CO2 storage in depleted shale reservoirs. We cultivated the shale core samples (containing both artificial-induced and pre-existing natural fractures) with a cultured microbial solution at specific temperature, time, and growth conditions. Subsequently, we obtain the properties of the fractured shale rock samples impacted by this microbial process. We investigate the impact of the mechanical responses due to the microbial process, on the long-term integrity and storage potentials of CO2 in shale reservoirs. Our results suggest that in Eagle Ford, Marcellus, and Niobrara shale formations, microbially-altered local and bulk mechanical properties can enhance the long-term caprock integrity and CO2 storage security by: (1.) Increasing the localized (+19% unconfined compressive strength, −20% Poisson's ratio, +35% fracture toughness) and bulk (+50% unconfined compressive strength, −13% Poisson's ratio) mechanical integrity; (2.) Decreasing permeability (−93%) and porosity (−38%); (3.) Altering the clay mineral content (−56%), calcite content (+21%), and morphology; (4.) Occluding microfractures; and (5.) Mitigating any potential leakage to the atmosphere through the caprock. This study considers the heterogeneity of shales, and provide valuable insights and viable assessment in solving the long-term GCS application in depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number120149
StatePublished - May 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry


  • Biogeomechanics
  • CO2 storage
  • Caprock
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Geomechanics
  • Shale


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