In the CaMP (Carbon Mineralization Potential) program, we aim to assess the potential and quantify the capacity of ultramafic rocks for CO2 sequestration through carbon mineralization on a regional scale. This involves investigating both the mineralogical underpinnings of carbon mineralization as well as developing methods for large-scale regional assessments. The first region undergoing assessment by the CaMP program is the province of British Columbia.
Many jurisdictions have introduced carbon offset purchase systems in order to reach greenhouse gas reduction targets. With the Canadian federal government committing to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the need for greenhouse gas offsets will only become greater. Ultramafic rocks commonly have a high potential for carbon mineralization and, thus, this presents a unique opportunity for companies with deposits hosted in such material to significantly contribute to carbon offset programs.
Ultramafic rocks are characterized by low silica (<45 wt%) and high magnesium and iron oxide (>18 wt%) contents and typically form in the mantle. When ultramafic rocks are brought up to Earth’s surface from the mantle they are commonly altered such that the magnesium contained within them has a high potential to react with CO2 to form carbonate minerals and reduce greenhouse gases. These rocks are the ‘low hanging fruit’ of carbon mineralization.
In the CaMP project, we target a type of hydrated ultramafic rock called serpentinite (serpentinization involves the addition of water to the crystal structure of primary minerals). This type of rock can have varying potential as a carbon sink depending on the degree of serpentinization that has occurred. Identifying the locations, distribution, abundances, geometries, and quality of these serpentinite rock bodies is the first step towards increasing awareness and quantifying the CO2 removal opportunity.
It is difficult, time-intensive, and cost-intensive to map, sample, and geochemically analyze every serpentinite occurrence in the province. Thus, CaMP has created a strategy to develop remote sensing techniques that can identify and quantify the carbon mineralization potential of serpentinite rock bodies. To do so, CaMP researchers study select rock bodies in detail to characterize the relationships between geology, geochemistry, rock physical properties, carbon mineralization potential, and airborne geophysical data. These relationships are then used to create 3D models of each rock body studied, and are then applied to other serpentinite occurrences. Using these relationships and models, serpentinite rock bodies are indexed for their carbon mineralization potential and a volumetric sequestration capacity is determined.
British Columbia contains extensive volumes of ultramafic rock that can sequester CO2. Funded by Geoscience BC and in partnership with the British Columbia Geological Survey and the Geologic Survey of Canada, the CaMP-BC project has produced a preliminary assessment of the province to quantify its potential for CO2 sequestration through carbon mineralization using its ultramafic resources. Furthermore, this project has laid the groundwork for future CaMP work by determining the geological, geochemical, and geophysical relationships that allow for the use of remote sensing techniques to assess the reactivity and CO2 sequestration potential of ultramafic rock bodies. View our preliminary report here.
One of the products of this research includes building 3D models of select ultramafic rock bodies in order to estimate and quantify their volume and reactivity. In BC, forty-nine localities were identified for evaluation of CO2 sequestration potential. Here we show one example of the models that were produced in this work.
Scan the QR code with your smartphone camera to check out a 3D model of the Decar ultramafic body! Decar is located in Site 31 on the adjacent map.
More QR codes can be accessed on page 21 of our report.
Following the success of the CaMP project on characterizing the prospectively of ultramafic rocks in British Columbia for carbon mineralization, we will be continuing our research on the western Canadian Cordillera by expanding our research to the ultramafic rocks of the Yukon in collaboration with the Yukon Geological Survey. This project will focus on several key localities to expand upon the lithological-geochemical-physical property dataset already established using BC’s rocks, and will refine our ability to predict ultramafic rock reactivity using geophysics.