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Still, McGrail points out, the Columbia basalt could hold
centuries' worth of the CO2 produced in the region. The Northwest's long
dependence on hydropower has made it a minor source of greenhouse gases so far.
But the area's power mix is likely to change as population and power demand
grow, and the region may have to one day rely on basalt sequestration, because
it has relatively few saline aquifers or spent gas and oil wells for CO2
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Valerie Brown, a science writer and musician, lives near
Portland, Oregon. She grew up on Idaho's Snake River flood basalt; her
grandfather ran sheep on Oregon's Columbia River basalt in the early 20th
century; and her geologist father intensely studied gabbro, a close relative of
basalt, in a formation on the Oregon-Idaho border.
This story first appeared in High Country News in September.