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A climate change solution?

Beneath the Columbia River Basin, a real-life trial of the uncertain science of carbon sequestration – Part I

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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 storage.

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.

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