New carbon capture research facility announced by Wolf Administration

Plans for a $6 million carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) facility to house subsurface core samples and drill cuttings from throughout Pennsylvania was announced Wednesday by Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. 

Core samples are used to advance government, academic, and private-sector research into the use of Pennsylvania’s subsurface geology, including addressing climate change by capturing and storing carbon dioxide underground. 

Dunn toured the existing storage area in Middletown and noted the importance of having the best tools and scientific information to effectively address a changing climate. “The samples available to the public through our Geological Survey are important to a broad range of research by universities, government agencies, and energy companies, so these improvements to our library will help advance carbon capture as well as many other research and decisions that rely on an understanding of geology.” 

Core samples reveal the physical and chemical nature of the rock, and a core sample is a long narrow piece of rock obtained by drilling with a special tool that lifts out an intact part of the rock. DCNR’s Geological Survey has developed a repository of rock core and drill cuttings generated through exploration into both oil and gas-bearing and other formations across Pennsylvania. Included in that repository are samples collected by survey geologists and those donated. 

The library has limited space at the Pennsylvania Geological Survey headquarters in Middletown. The current fiscal year Commonwealth of Pennsylvania budget provides $6 million for construction of a new core storage facility. 

DCNR Bureau of Geological Survey Director Gale Blackmer said the new rock sample library will “more than double the department’s current capacity to store, catalog, and analyze subsurface rock samples collected throughout the state for focused research on the state’s subsurface geology.” 

Blackmer added that the department has begun the process of identifying a location and construction contractor for the facility.