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AZGS and the Carbon Utilization and Storage Partnership (CUSP) .

AZGS joins Carbon Utilization and Storage Partnership (CUSP)

Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS) has joined the Carbon Utilization and Storage Partnership (CUSP) to characterize, catalog, analyze and rank carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) options for Arizona. CUSP’s chief objective is to facilitate safe, secure, cost-effective transportation and long-term storage of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2). The CUSP partnership comprises 13 states, 3 national laboratories and is one of 4 regional initiatives recently funded by the U.S. Department of Energy tasked with the job of speeding up carbon capture, utilization, and storage. (Cover figure).

The principle goal of CCUS is to reduce anthropogenic CO2 released into the atmosphere. CO2 is the primary greenhouse gas and as of 2018 reporting (EPA), 34 million metric tons of CO2 was produced in Arizona. Primary point sources of CO2 are from gas- and coal- and gas-powered power plants and cement plants. CO2 is the single-largest anthropogenic contributor to climate change.

As part of the CCUS process, CO2 from industrial sources is captured and transported through pipelines to a location where it can either be stored long-term in confined underground rock formations saturated with saline groundwater at depths of more than 2600 feet (800 meters), or used to squeeze out trapped oil unreachable by traditional recovery methods. Investing CCUS in Arizona benefits companies able to take advantage of tax credits in and adjacent to Arizona, the Arizona economy, and the climate.

CCUS image
CCUS in Arizona: NATCARB 2014 database (blue and gray), WESTCARB basins (orange), and CUSP basins of interest (green). CO2 sources (red circles) and pipelines (red).

In 2020-2022, AZGS-CUSP project, AZGS will be engaged in new data collection and analysis, data organization, regional infrastructure and economics, and public outreach of CCUS in Arizona. Research will focus on potential subsurface storage targets adjacent to sources of CO2 (such as power plants), existing pipeline corridors and Right-of-Ways in Arizona’s Basin and Range Province and Colorado Plateau. One of the principal outcomes will be an enhanced machine-readable, open-access regional database with vetted, high-quality subsurface geology, infrastructure, industrial, and relatable databases for reservoir characterization for stakeholders in the oil and gas industry, regulators, federal, state, and tribal governments.  

CUSP is led by the Petroleum Recovery Research Center (PRRC) at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, which was awarded $5.0 million by the DOE for the project. The AZGS will receive about $226,395 with the potential for additional funding for database development as the project progresses through 2024.

AZGS has led or participated in research involving CCUS projects funded by DOE since 2010. Previous iterations were called the Southwest Regional Partnership on Carbon Sequestration (SECARB), West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WESTCARB), and Rocky Mountain Carbon Capture and Storage (RMCCS). During these projects AZGS evaluated and published open-file reports for each of ten (10) of Arizona’s largest Cenozoic sedimentary basins in the Basin and Range and specific rock formations and strata on the Colorado Plateau. These projects collected and digitized large amounts of oil and gas and water well data, geophysical logs and some seismic data, formation data, and physical rock cuttings and drill cores. Data were used to populate a National Carbon Sequestration Database and Geographical Information System (NATCARB). A few published AZGS references are provided below.

For more information contact: Brian Gootee at


Gootee, B.F., 2015, An Evaluation of Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Potential in the Picacho Basin, southeastern Arizona. Arizona Geological Survey Open File Report, OFR-15-09, 16 p, 2 appendices, 3 plates.   

Spencer, J.E., 2011, Preliminary Evaluation of Cenozoic Basins in Arizona for Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Potential. Arizona Geological Survey Open File Report, OFR-11-05, 14 p.

Rauzi, S.L. and Spencer, J.E., An Evaluation of CO2 Sequestration Potential of Paleozoic Sandstone Units, Northeastern Arizona. Arizona Geological Survey Open File Report, OFR-12-10, 12 p.