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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Lehigh - Hanson Cement Conduct Seismic Study for Carbon Capture Storage in Rural Lawrence County

BUDDHA - JUNE 27, 2023 - The Lehigh - Hanson Company in Mitchell has conducted a preliminary geological study of areas south and east of Bedford, as well as north and east of Mitchell.

The purpose of the study is to see if it is feasible to capture carbon emissions from the plant and have a storage of the material once captured in locations nearby to the plant.

This is only the first step of this type of study, and the company seeks to obtain data and information to help with and determine this new process.

According to Lehigh - Hanson Environmental Manger Michael Harding the study is being conducted by the University of Illinois with the Company called Explor.

" This study should not be construed with the storage of carbon or delineation of it," said Harding.

"A grant was applied for by the Lehigh-Hanson to the EPA for this type of study, however the company has not received any funds from the grant, as the grant has not yet been awarded,"

This is only the initial step in determining whether it is feasible, safe and makes sense for the company to move forward in the marketing of capturing Carbon emissions.

The study was conducted on public right of ways with several community leaders who gave the company permission to move forward with the study.

" At this time, the support of the study has been overwhelming, with positive interactions among the crews that was out conducting the study," said Harding.

The following information letter was sent out to the community leaders about the survey:

Heidelberg Materials North America

Mitchell Cement Plant

200 Mill Creek Road

Mitchell, IN 47446

Phone (812) 849-2191

June 2, 2023

Subject: 2D Seismic Data Acquisition, Lawrence County

Dear Community, Advisory Panel:

The Mitchell Plant team had the opportunity to present some of this information to many of you who were present at our last Community Advisory Panel meeting in mid-May.

We thought it was important to follow up on that meeting with some detailed information about the seismic data acquisition that will be starting soon.

This is an initial step to better inform Heidelberg Materials about the subsurface geology of our area in determining the feasibility of future permanent storage of captured CO2. We are excited about opportunities to lead the industry in decarbonization, and this project has the potential to contribute significantly to our company’s goals for lowering our carbon footprint and creating the most sustainable cement product, while also ensuring the long-term viability of our plant in the community.

As leaders in our community, it’s very possible you’ll be asked about this activity. We want you to have the information available to answer their questions, but we also want to offer our team as a resource either helping you to answer those questions or through us answering those questions directly. Below is information we hope you will find helpful for this part of the project.

Heidelberg Materials is working with the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) and Explor, a company that specializes in these types of projects. More specifically, Explor is a privately owned geophysical technology company with operations in the United States and Canada. They specialize in developing advanced technologies and methodologies to safely acquire the highest quality seismic data with the lowest possible environmental footprint.

Information Summary: Ultra Low (and Zero) Impact Seismic Data Acquisition

Seismic data provides excellent images of the subsurface which will allow Heidelberg Materials to understand the subsurface geology. An example of 3D seismic data from

the United States Geological Survey (USGS) is available here:

( profile-animation)

To acquire seismic data, Explor does two primary things:


The recording crew will deploy seismic receivers along the bar ditch on certain roads. The crew will drill a shallow 1.5-inch diameter hole into the ground (not the road) and place the receivers into these holes so that they can detect and record the movement of the ground. These receivers will be deployed approximately every 20 ft along the bar ditch prior to any source activity. Explor uses the smallest and lightest seismic receivers enabling our field technicians to deploy nodes safely and efficiently with virtually no impact on the environment. Retrieving them at the end of the project is also very efficient.

Left: Explor receiver deployment along a township road in Southern Illinois in June 2022. 1½” diameter in a hole drilled 3” – 5” deep. These receivers weigh less than 6 ounces. Shown in hand for scale and as deployed in a plowed field.


After the receivers are deployed along the lines, the crew will utilize a vibratory source using a technique called vibroseis. With this system, we have a vehicle equipped with low ground pressure tires that weighs about 30 tons. It moves into position, lowers a pad with 2/4hydraulics, and makes the ground vibrate. If you stand close to it, you can feel the vibrations, but the machine is designed to ensure that it does not cause damage to any nearby structures. To be safe, we monitor the ground motion around structures to ensure that we stay below established thresholds for Peak Particle Velocity (PPV) as determined by the United States Bureau of Mines.

A vibroseis unit operating in open farmland on left and on right an Explor Field Technician taking PPV measurements near a farmhouse in Illinois, 2022

Explor will not be using any explosives for this upcoming seismic project. They will not use any chemicals other than fuel hydraulic fluid for the vehicles.

Explor also has a system called IntelliSeis, which is an integrated approach to seismic design, planning, implementation, and operations. The system is also used to measure performance, analyze field operations, and integrate positioning, navigation, and real-time tracking. Explor uses a wide range of data and remote sensing techniques before heading to the field in order to minimize the environmental footprint. All the pertinent information and data they need for safe and efficient operations is built into IntelliSeis.

The IntelliSeis Dashboard is like mission control for seismic operations that allows everyone on the team to see and understand what is happening on the project. The system also allows the team to be very agile and flexible and adapt to changes in near real time. IntelliSeis ensures that the team understands and conforms to any applicable permitting requirements and regulatory restrictions. When a new hazard is identified or a change is made in the field by one field team, it is immediately seen by every other field team as well as anyone logging in remotely.


Example of the IntelliSeis Dashboard

Timing of Project

We anticipate that the Explor team will begin to mobilize on Tuesday, June 6, to deploy the seismic receivers. Toward the end of that week, they’ll be testing the vibrators and expect to begin work with the vibroseis units (trucks) around Friday June 9. Once that work begins, we can expect them to wrap up in about three to four weeks’ time, depending on how the weather cooperates. Enclosed with this letter is a map outlining the work that will take place. A portion of the area extends into Jackson County as well, and a version of this letter is also being sent to leaders in that area.

We certainly hope you find this information helpful and want to reiterate our commitment to being a point of contact for you or any interested people who may ask you about this activity.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to either one of us directly if we can answer any questions from you or the community. We appreciate your continued support as we begin these initial steps.


There was no public notice given to the Lawrence County residents except in a Mitchell City Council meeting at the beginning of June. However, there was no official public notice given to residents that reside in rural sections of Lawrence County.

Phil Johnson, a resident on Tunnelton Road has expressed concerns by the company's plans and how it might affect residents in the area.

Johnson was agitated that residents in the area was not notified by county officials who allowed the company on their property to conduct the survey.

Johnson said that sensors was placed about every twenty feet on his property to do the survey. " I asked that the sensors be moved, and they did not remove them until after the survey was already completed,"

" We are concerned about our well water being contaminated, and the environmental impact that it will have on this small community. I asked if why they could not store this on their property, in which they own several acres," said Johnson.

" We really do not want this,"

According to Johnson he spoke to several of his neighbors who are equally concerned about the company's intentions.

In 2021, there were more than 37 million metric tons were sequestered Globally, according to the Interglobal Studies on Climate Change.

What is carbon storage?

Carbon capture and storage is a process in which a relatively pure stream of carbon dioxide from industrial sources is separated, treated and transported to a long-term storage location. For example, the carbon dioxide stream that is to be captured can result from burning fossil fuels or biomass. Usually the CO₂ is captured from large point sources, such as a chemical plant or biomass plant, and then stored in an underground geological formation. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thus mitigate climate change.

The following information was obtained from National Energy Technology Laboratory


A CO2 injection well in operation as part of an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operation at a mature oil field in the United States.

Oil, natural gas, and naturally occurring carbon dioxide (CO2) gas deposits have been naturally trapped and stored within subsurface geologic formations for millions of years, providing evidence that it is possible to store CO2 in similar geologic formations for very long periods of time. These deposits provide information about the geologic conditions needed for secure CO2 storage.

In addition, the United States has been safely injecting natural gas into underground formations that are able to store gas until it is needed. This geological and engineering experience is being applied to storage of CO2, a safer, non-combustible gas. Additional evidence that CO2 can be safely stored underground comes from a more than 40-year-old process called enhanced oil recovery (EOR) where CO2 has been injected underground to increase oil production.

Finally, there have been large-scale commercial and research-related trial CO2 storage operations in the United States and around the world that have demonstrated effective CO2 storage.

Examples of efforts that have been successfully storing CO2 on a large-scale include the Sleipner Project in the North Sea (in operation since 1996) and the Weyburn Project in Saskatchewan (operated from 2000 to 2012). In addition, large-scale CO2 storage research projects are being conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in various geologic settings across the United States. These include injection efforts underway by the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSPs). To date, more than 14 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2 have been successfully injected and 10.5 MMT of CO2 has been successfully stored as part of the RCSP large-scale storage efforts. The vast amount of evidence attained from EOR, gas storage, research and development (R&D), and commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) efforts suggests that CO2 storage is safe, assuming that sites are well-selected, designed, and operated appropriately.

Ensuring safe injection and storage of CO2 requires that the risks associated with these large-scale field projects need to be identified and quantified. Storage risks are related to CO2 migrating out of its storage complex and the physical and chemical effects that the injected CO2 may have on the subsurface. DOE research is developing technologies and procedures to identify, reduce, and/or mitigate these risks to ensure safe operations. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has undertaken efforts to identify and quantify risks through a multi-lab initiative called the National Risk Assessment Partnership (NRAP). The goal of NRAP is to develop a science-based methodology for calculating risks at any CO2storage site while providing necessary scientific and technological advances to support that methodology. The NRAP toolsets will include methodologies and models that predict behavior of each component of the subsurface systems.

The business model for carbon storage will be huge in the years to come, as more manufacturers will seek to capture the carbons in the air and store them underground.

Lawrence County Zephyr will follow developments and keep the public informed on the survey and related information.

For breaking news, news and information go to or like/follow the Lawrence County Zephyr Facebook page.


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