The laboratory is located within the Latera caldera (central Italy), a volcanic structure that has not been active for over 0.16 Ma but which still maintains a very high geothermal gradient. It is this elevated heat flow that results in the thermo-metamorphic alteration of buried carbonate units and associated production of natural CO2and associated traces gases like CH4, H2S, and H2 (Bateson et al., 2008).
This laboratory so represents the ideal location to conduct experiments on on-shore monitoring and their impacts on terrestrial ecosystems. The caldera can simulate a CCS scenario, where CO2 escapes. Some innovative monitoring techniques can be easily tested, thanks to the high CO2 concentration of the gas fluxes over the area.
The laboratory is composed of an operations room, equipped with facilities dedicated to real time data control and data post processing.
Three fixed stations developed by the University of Rome, located in the caldera, continuously measure CO2, temperature and pH. Data are recorded and stored in a cloud.
Some high tech, low cost portable systems in-house developed by OGS are available in the lab to perform some surveys in the Latera area. They measure CO2 concentration, temperature, relative humidity and pressure.
Some historical data are available in a cloud, also remotely accessible (through www.eccselnatlabitaly.it), with which it is possible to validate the new datasets acquired.
The facility offers the possibility to acquire remote sensing data (using OGS aircraft, equipped with high remote sensing instruments) and to compare the new datasets with some historical remote sensing datasets.
Several tests on CO2 monitoring have been performed in the past 20 years, including some remote sensing surveys. In this site geology, geomorphology, impacts on terrestrial ecosystems and other environmental aspects have been studied. A laboratory to collect and process the acquired data was missing, and this is why it was built. The laboratory was officially opened in June 2017.
The possibility to test and calibrate innovative monitoring techniques, including remote sensing, in an area where CO2 leakages are present, is a key aspect for the CCS frontier improvement. Latera NatLab valorises the area and adds an important value to CCS studies.
OGS owns the Latera NatLab, its responsible and manages this permanent laboratory, offering logistical and scientific support to the researchers utilising the site. In collaboration with the University of Rome, La Sapienza, OGS makes the long-term series of multidisciplinary data collected and available to the international scientific community.
This laboratory is related and complementary to the Panarea NatLab, owned and operated by OGS in the island of Panarea (Italy). The implementation of both laboratories has been funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Resarch in the frame of the ECCSEL NatLab Italy project.