A Diamond-Bit Drill Is Digging Underground In Palisades, N.Y.

PALISADES, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – As the planet heats up, researchers in southern Rockland County dig down as they search for ways to keep climate change in check.

As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported, a diamond-bit drill is boring beneath a tower along the Palisades Interstate Parkway, but it’s not digging for oil.

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“We’re trying to get through that rock to see if any of it is relevant and suitable for storage of carbon dioxide potentially in the future,” Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory professor David Goldberg told Adams.

Underground carbon dioxide storage is one possible hope for mitigating climate change, Adams reported.

Goldberg is exploring 2,000 feet into the Newark basin sediment.

“We’re looking first for porous, permeable or injectable sandstones,” he told Adams.

CO² sequestration is already being done at a natural gas operation in Norway.

“It’s been very successful, they’ve injected on the order of a million tons a year for 15 years,” said Goldberg. “To make an impact in climate change, we’d be taking gigatons – thousands of millions of tons of CO² out of the atmosphere and putting it underground.”

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Brian Slater with the New York State Museum and Geological Survey writes depth notations on 2.5-inch diameter cylinders of Triassic rock.

The samples have not seen sunlight in 225 million years, Adams reported.

“My office and me personally have been looking at carbon sequestration potential all across New York State and I have to say that the rocks we’ve brought up here are by far the most promising I’ve seen in quite a while,” Slater said.

But Goldberg cautions this is just the beginning.

“It’s a piece of the puzzle for solving the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” he told Adams. “To have a large impact on the atmosphere would have to be done in a major way with large volumes of CO² being captured and stored. So that probably means an infrastructure, ultimately, that’s on the order of the size of the oil and gas infrastructure as it exists today.”

The project is being funded in large part by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was touted for creating so-called “shovel-ready” jobs.

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