The Harrat volcanic Fields on the Arabian Peninsula: their geologic setting, petrology, and suitability for carbon disposal

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This thesis evaluates the suitability of the Late Miocene-Recent basalts on the Harrat volcanic elds of Saudi Arabia for the disposal of CO2 emitted from industrial sources. For this evaluation, topography, geological setting, hydrology, and petrology of the Harrat basalts are the most important parameters. The basalts must have su cient thickness of at least 500 m of which at least 400 m must be saturated with groundwater in order to completely dissolve CO2 at the injection depth. The basalts must be reactive with dissolved CO2 and must have su cient matrix or fracture permeability. In addition, the basalts must be located near a xed industrial source of CO2, and there must be su cient supply of water for injection. All the volcanic elds in western and northern Saudi Arabia are evaluated in this study, amounting to 17 individual elds. The basalt elds were grouped in an older and younger generation, each with speci c geological characteristics. The basalts are reactive with CO2, because they are relatively unaltered. Field observations con rm that the basalts are su ciently permeable, particularly in tu s, agglomerates near vents, in distal lava ows along natural shrinkage joints and along vesicular margins of individual ows. The total thickness of basalt within lava elds was mapped using the digital elevation model by subtracting the base elevation from the surface elevation. The level of the groundwater table was estimated from Google Earth observations of the local topography and well data. Most elds did not have su cient basalt thickness and/or groundwater for the process. Harrat Rahat meets most of the requirements for 5 the CarbFix process, having su ciently thick basalts in three areas and an extensive groundwater aquifer. However, the maximum height of the groundwater aquifer in basalts is estimated to be 225 meters, which is less than optimal. This study concludes that 16 out of the 17 basalt elds in Saudi Arabia are not suitable for carbon mineralization by the CarbFix process, mainly because they are too thin and located higher than the local groundwater table. However, this pioneering study establishes a baseline for additional research in new technologies using CarbFix or other processes.
Date of AwardNov 2020
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorHussein Hoteit (Supervisor)

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