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Open Access Natural CO2 Seeps Offshore Panarea: A Test Site for Subsea CO2 Leak Detection Technology


During RV Poseidon cruise POS469 (May 2014), the distribution of pCO2 in the near field of submarine volcanic gas flares in shallow water depths down to 50 m below sea level was continuously monitored using three different and independent methodologies. In situ nondispersive infrared (NDIR) spectrometry, pH measurements, and onboard membrane inlet mass spectrometry (MIMS) were used to determine the fate of rising CO2 bubbles and the dissolved CO2 plume patterns in a 300 × 400-m working area. The In situ sensor carrier platform, a towed video-controlled water sampling rosette, equipped with CTD sensors, guaranteed excellent ground truthing of seafloor characteristics and bubble discharge. Sensor data and near-seafloor observations indicated that the gas bubbles (<9 mm in diameter, >97 vol.% of CO2) dissolved very rapidly within the first 10 m above seafloor. Bottom water masses enriched with pCO2 (up to 1,100 μatm) show low pH values (up to 7.80) and tend to spread rather downslope west than following the measured weak current in SSE-SSW direction. The 3-D evaluation of pCO2 plume is a valuable tool to back-trace the origin of CO2 leakage when compared with local current regimes, water column CTD data, and seafloor bathymetry. Seep sites offshore Panarea can be used for studying CO2 leakage behavior and testing measuring strategies in shallow waters. Moreover, this area is a naturally designed laboratory to improve existing physicochemical and oceanographic transport models for subsea CO2 leakage.

Keywords: CCS leak detection; CO2 sensors; natural laboratory Panarea

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2015

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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