Energy, Resources and the Environment

… and the winner is: OSPA Winner ’14

Every year, young students have the opportunity to compete for the Outstanding Student Poster Award (OSPA) at the EGU General Assembly. The OSP Award is intended to further improve the overall quality of poster presentations and, most importantly, to encourage younger colleagues in presenting their work in form of a poster.

Last year’s OSPA Winner in the Energy, Resources and Environment Division was Elisenda Bakker M.Sc. She is currently doing her PhD at the High Pressure and Temperature Laboratory of the Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University (the Netherlands). Her work is part of the European ULTimateCO2 Program, aimed at increasing confidence in the long-term (i.e. after 1000’s of years after site closure) efficiency and safety of subsurface CO2 storage.

We at ERE Matters invited Elisenda to explain the research that won her the OSPA last year! If this will trigger your curiosity, she will be presenting her most recent work at this year’s EGU General Assembly as well. And to all the young ERE scientists: give it a go yourself this year! Prizes include a conference fee waiver for the next EGU General Assembly and a publication free of cost to one of the EGU Journals. 🙂


BakkerI’m grateful for receiving the ERE OSPA Award 2014, thanks! The work that has earned me the award is part of my PhD-research on the long-term effects of CO2-exposure on the coupled chemical-hydro-mechanical behaviour of faulted clay-rich caprocks. My research is set in a larger consortium that investigates the feasibility of large-scale CO2 storage in the European subsurface. As storage can only be considered when the CO2 can be retained for the long-term, it is important to investigate the chemical effect, which is known to occur in the presence of CO2, on the mechanical integrity of a potential reservoir-caprock storage facility. And particularly on fragile features such as (pre-)existing faults, which are known to be present in many reservoirs. I performed so-called shear experiments in the HPT-laboratory at Utrecht University to simulate slip along a fault surface, which I can use to get insights into the processes active in reservoir-scale slip movement along faults. Movement along a fault will not always result in earthquakes, and we want to know what the requirements are for the unstable slip regime in which earthquakes might occur when they nucleate in clay-rich caprock, specifically.

Schematic diagram showing a CO2 storage reservoir and overlying caprock, several km's below the Earth's surface, which are cross-cut by a fault.

Schematic diagram showing a CO2 storage reservoir and overlying caprock, several km’s below the Earth’s surface, which are cross-cut by a fault.

This type of work really suits me as I felt, before I ended up doing this, that to me doing research was only valuable when the work that I would do, would contribute to our society. I could not do research for the sake of doing research, so when this research topic crossed my path I decided that this would be the perfect combination of doing scientific research and serving society by investigating the feasibility of a proposed solution to one of the major challenges mankind is currently facing.

The main goal of the Energy, Resources and the Environment (ERE) Division is to be a leading forum on discussions regarding the provision of adequate and reliable supplies of affordable energy and other resources, in environmentally sustainable ways. As such, it has many links to the other EGU Divisions, such as Hydrology, Natural Hazards, and Tectonics and Structural Geology.

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