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Eva Cheung

Carbon Capture and Sequestration; Panacea or Indulgence?

Tuzo Wilson Lecture 2023
Roel Snieder

by Prof. Roel Snieder, W.M. Keck Distinguished Chair of Professional Development Education at Colorado School of Mines

Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023 from 7:30pm - 9:00 pm (EST)

Isabel Bader Theatre, Victoria University, 93 Charles St. West, Toronto, ON, M5S 1K9 (campus map)


Current events show that climate change is upon us. The mechanism of global warming was already explained fairly accurately by Arrhenius in 1896. An alternative to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by burning less fossil fuels is to capture CO2 and then store it in the subsurface. This technology relies on our expertise in injecting fluids in the subsurface and to monitor the fluids and their fate in the subsurface. This technology has been presented as "a well-accepted leading mitigation strategy against climate change.” In order to understand to what extent this optimism is warranted one needs to consider the following factors: (1) the amount of CO2 that needs to be captured and sequestered to have a significant impact on climate change, (2) the cost of CO2 capture and sequestration compared with other technologies for avoiding CO2 emissions, (3) the reason why CO2 capture is expensive and energy-intensive, and (4) the extreme accuracy with which CO2 in the subsurface needs to be monitored. As with many complicated problems, the devil is in the details, and we need to understand these details to assess the impact of carbon capture and storage that can be expected. This determines whether this technology is a panacea or an indulgence.

Short Bio

Roel Snieder holds the W.M. Keck Distinguished Chair of Professional Development Education at the Colorado School of Mines. He received in 1984 a Master’s degree in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics from Princeton University, and in 1987 a Ph.D. in seismology from Utrecht University. In 1993 he was appointed as professor of seismology at Utrecht University, where from 1997-2000 he served as Dean of the Faculty of Earth Sciences. Roel served on the editorial boards of Geophysical Journal International, Inverse Problems, Reviews of Geophysics, the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, and the European Journal of Physics. In 2000 he was elected as Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He is author of the textbooks "A Guided Tour of Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences", "The Art of Being a Scientist", and "The Joy of Science" that are published by Cambridge University Press. In 2011 he was elected as Honorary Member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, and in 2014 he received a research award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In 2016 Roel received the Beno Gutenberg Medal from the European Geophysical Union and the Outstanding Educator Award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. He received in 2020 the Ange Melagro Prize for his outstanding class Science and Spirituality. From 2000-2014 he was a firefighter in Genesee Fire Rescue where he served for two years as Fire Chief.

Tuzo Wilson 2023 Poster

Tuzo Wilson Lecture 2023

Free Public Lecture sponsored by the Department of Physics, University of Toronto