Fluid-rock interactions

The BGS Hydrothermal Laboratory is used to study the chemical reactions between fluids and rocks under conditions found in the top few kilometres of the Earth's crust. In its 30+ years the laboratory has been at the centre of numerous investigations that require well-controlled conditions to study reaction processes under realistic (i.e. in-situ) conditions (i.e. elevated temperatures and pressures).


Both batch (static) and flow-through equipment are available in the laboratory, with useable volumes ranging from less than one millilitre to over ten litres. Much of the equipment can withstand high temperatures and pressures, with current standard operating conditions from Ione atmosphere pressure up to about 500 bar at temperatures from 5°C to 500°C. More extreme conditions can be simulated with minor modifications. Although some equipment is 'off the shelf', much of the equipment is novel, having been specially developed for the laboratory.

The experimental reaction products are characterised using a wide range of fluid chemical and mineralogical analytical techniques that are available within other dedicated laboratories at the BGS.


Our customers are British, European, and international agencies and private sector companies working in the areas of:

  • radioactive waste disposal
  • carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration
  • geothermal Systems
  • weathering processes
  • waste disposal

Examples of experimental studies include:

  • studying the high temperature alteration of borosilicate glass, an important waste-form being considered for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste
  • investigating the reactions occurring in and around highly alkaline cement, with a view to understanding alkaline disturbed zones around repositories for the underground disposal of low-intermediate radioactive waste
  • quantifying the reactivity of CO2 with rocks, and its impact on long-term mineral trapping during the deep underground disposal of CO2
  • studying reactions occurring within high temperature geothermal systems, and their potential impact on rocks and reservoir properties
  • investigating weathering processes, including the leaching of toxic metals from fly ash and mine wastes
  • quantifying the dissolution rates of a variety of minerals in order to help improve the accuracy and confidence in predictive geochemical computer models

Selected research

CalciteExperiments in fluid-rock interaction

Latest BGS laboratory experiments to simulate the behaviour of a deep saline aquifer injected with super-critical CO2.

Sample publications

Savage, D, Bateman, K, Milodowski, A E and Hughes, C R. 1992. An experimental evaluation of the reaction of potential HDR geothermal circulation fluids with carnmenellis granite at 200°C. Journal of Vulcanology. pp167—191.

Rochelle, C A, Bateman, K, MacGregor, R, Pearce, J, Savage, D and Wetton, P. 1994. Experimental determination of chlorite dissolution rates: relevance to the migration of cement pore fluids from a radioactive waste repository. Materials Research Society Symposium Proceedings (1995), 393, p 149—156.

Czernichowski-Lauriol, I, Sanjuan, B, Rochelle, C, Bateman, K, Pearce, J and Blackwell, P. 1996. Area 5: Inorganic Geochemistry, Chapter 7 in The underground disposal of carbon dioxide. Holloway, S (editor). Final report for the CEC, contract number JOU2-CT92-0031.

Hama, K, Bateman, K, Coombs, P, Hards, V L and Milodowski, A E. 2001. Influence of bacteria on rock-water interaction and clay mineral formation in subsurface granitic environments. Clay Minerals (2001) 36, 599—613.

Savage, D, Rochelle, C, Moore, Y, Milodowski, A, Bateman, K, Bailey, D and Mihara, M. 2001. Analcime reactions at 25-90°C in hyperalkaline fluids. Mineralogical Magazine, 65(5), 571—587.

Czernichowski-Lauriol, I, Rochelle, C A, Brosse, E, Springer, M, Bateman, K, Kervevan, C, Pearce, J M and Sanjuan, B. 2002. Reactivity of injected CO2 with the Utsira Sand reservoir at Sleipner. Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies. Gale, J and Kaya, Y (editors), Elsevier Science, 1617—1620.

Bateman, K, Turner, G, Pearce, J M, Noy, D J, Birchall, D and Rochelle, C A. 2005. Large-scale column experiment: Study of CO2, porewater, rock reactions and model test case. Oil and Gas Science and Technology — Revue de l'IFP (Proceedings of International Conference on Gas-Water-Rock Interactions Induced by Reservoir Exploitation, CO2 Sequestration and Other Geological Storage, held at IFP, Paris, France, 18—20 November 2003), 60(1), 161—175.

Rochelle, C A, Purser, G, Bateman, K, Kemp, S J and Wagner, D. 2011. Geochemical interactions between CO2 and minerals within the Utsira caprock: A 5 year experimental study. British Geological Survey Commissioned Report, CR/11/082. 30p.


Please contact Keith Bateman for further information