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Open-File Report 2009–1035

Development of a Probabilistic Assessment Methodology for Evaluation of Carbon Dioxide Storage

By Robert C. Burruss, Sean T. Brennan, Philip A. Freeman, Matthew D. Merrill, Leslie F. Ruppert, Mark F. Becker, William N. Herkelrath, Yousif K. Kharaka, Christopher E. Neuzil, Sharon M. Swanson, Troy A. Cook, Timothy R. Klett, Philip H. Nelson, and Christopher J. Schenk

Open-File Report 2009-1035 and link to report PDF (2,156 KB)


This report describes a probabilistic assessment methodology developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for evaluation of the resource potential for storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the subsurface of the United States as authorized by the Energy Independence and Security Act (Public Law 110–140, 2007). The methodology is based on USGS assessment methodologies for oil and gas resources created and refined over the last 30 years. The resource that is evaluated is the volume of pore space in the subsurface in the depth range of 3,000 to 13,000 feet that can be described within a geologically defined storage assessment unit consisting of a storage formation and an enclosing seal formation.

Storage assessment units are divided into physical traps (PTs), which in most cases are oil and gas reservoirs, and the surrounding saline formation (SF), which encompasses the remainder of the storage formation. The storage resource is determined separately for these two types of storage. Monte Carlo simulation methods are used to calculate a distribution of the potential storage size for individual PTs and the SF. To estimate the aggregate storage resource of all PTs, a second Monte Carlo simulation step is used to sample the size and number of PTs. The probability of successful storage for individual PTs or the entire SF, defined in this methodology by the likelihood that the amount of CO2 stored will be greater than a prescribed minimum, is based on an estimate of the probability of containment using present-day geologic knowledge. The report concludes with a brief discussion of needed research data that could be used to refine assessment methodologies for CO2 sequestration.

First posted March 2009

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Suggested citation:
Burruss, R.C., Brennan, S.T., Freeman, P.A., Merrill, M.D., Ruppert, L.F., Becker, M.F., Herkelrath, W.N., Kharaka, Y.K., Neuzil, C.E., Swanson, S.M., Cook, T.A., Klett, T.R., Nelson, P.H., and Schenk, C.J., 2009, Development of a probabilistic assessment methodology for evaluation of carbon dioxide storage: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009–1035, 81 p., available only online at

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