January 18, 2010
The microscope shows tiny clay minerals inside a hole in a basalt that is roughly 17 million years old (Grande Ronde basalt at 2,770 feet depth in Wallula dril hole from the C02 sequestration pilot project). Researchers are trying to identify the clays and analyze their chemistry. Further research will determine whether these clays will enhance or inhibit the reaction between the pumped in CO2 and the basalt. This reaction is key because it forms stable calcium carbonate which locks the co2 in the rock. There'd be no chance of it escaping to the atmosphere.
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The SEM can magnify from six to one million times. It can zoom in on something as small as 3 microns, or three-millionths of a meter.
WALLA WALLA -- A small, clear box with several basalt fragments represents a key part of Courtney Porter's thesis project.Each fragment, though no bigger than a coffee bean, was trapped deep underground until recently, and each piece tells a unique tale o