Evaluation of long-term impacts of CO2 leakage on groundwater quality using hydrochemical data from a natural analogue site in South Korea

Hyun Kwon Do, Seong Taek Yun, Soonyoung Yu, Yon Gyung Ryuh, Hyeon Su Choi

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Three hydrochemical types of CO2-rich water (i.e., Na-HCO3, Ca-Na-HCO3 and Ca-HCO3) occur together in the silicate bedrock (granite and gneiss) of Gangwon Province in South Korea. As a natural analogue of geological carbon storage (GCS), this can provide implications for the environmental impacts of the leakage of CO2 from deep GCS sites. By using hydrochemical and isotopic datasets that were collected for previous and current studies, this study aimed to carefully scrutinize the hydrochemical differences in the three water types with an emphasis on providing a better understanding of the impacts of long-term CO2 leakage on groundwater quality (especially the enrichments of minor and trace metals). As a result, the Na-HCO3 type CO2-rich water contained higher Li, Rb and Cs than the Ca-HCO3 type, whereas Fe, Mn and Sr were higher in the Ca-HCO3 type than in the Na-HCO3 type despite the similar geological setting, which indicate that the hydrochemical differences were caused during different geochemical evolutionary processes. The ffi18O and ffiD values and tritium concentrations indicated that the Na-HCO3 type was circulated through a deep and long pathway for a relatively long residence time in the subsurface, while the Ca-HCO3 type was strongly influenced by mixing with recently recharged water. These results were supported by the results of principal component analysis (PCA), whose second component showed that the Na-HCO3 type had a significant relation with alkali metals such as Li, Rb and Cs as well as Na and K and also had a strong relationship with Al, F and U, indicating an extensive water-rock interaction, while the Ca-HCO3 type was highly correlated with Ca, Mg, Sr, Fe and Mn, indicating mixing and reverse cation exchange during its ascent with hydrogeochemical evolution. In particular, the concentrations of Fe, Mn, U and Al in the CO2-rich water, the result of long-term water-rock interaction and cation exchange that was enhanced by CO2 leakage into silicate bedrock, exceeded drinking water standards. The study results show that the leakage of CO2 gas and CO2-rich fluid into aquifers and the subsequent hydrogeochemical processes can degrade groundwater quality by mobilizing trace elements in rocks and consequently may pose a health risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1457
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the Korea Ministry of Environment as “CO2 Storage Environmental Management (K−COSEM) Research Center Research Program, grant number 2014001810001” and partly by the 2010 Eco−Technopia 21 Project for early−stage field campaigns.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors.


  • CO leakage
  • Groundwater quality
  • Long-term impact
  • Natural analogue
  • Trace metal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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