Diffusivity-dependent fracturing processes and microseismic activity in granite

Catarina Baptista-Pereira, Bruno Gonçalves Da Silva

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2 Scopus citations


Enhanced Geothermal Systems have relied on hydraulic fracturing to increase the permeability of rock reservoirs. The permeability enhancement depends on the connectivity between new and existing fractures. This, in turn, depends to a large extent on the interaction between the rock and the fracturing fluid, which not only pressurizes existing and new fractures but also diffuses into the rock matrix. In this research, the effect of the diffusivity of hydraulic oil on the fracturing processes and microseismicity of unconfined prismatic granite specimens was experimentally evaluated using visual and acoustic emission monitoring. The tests consisted of injecting hydraulic oil into two pre-fabricated flaws at two rates (2 ml/min and 20 ml/min), kept constant in each test. The fluid pressure inside the flaws was increased until hydraulic fractures propagated and the fluid front growing from the pre-fabricated flaws was visually monitored throughout the tests. It was observed that the fracturing pressures and patterns were injection-rate-dependent, which shows that diffusivity and poro-elastic effects play an important role in the hydraulic fracturing processes of granite. A smaller fluid front was observed for the 20 ml/min injection rate, associated to a lower volume injected and to a higher fracturing pressure when compared to the 2 ml/min injection rate. This was interpreted to be caused by the different pore pressures that developed inside of the rock matrix, which are function of the fluid front size. Microseismic activity was observed throughout the tests, becoming more intense and localized near the flaws as one approached the end of the test (i.e. visible crack propagation). While microseismic events were observed outside the fluid front region, their density was significantly larger within this area, showing that fluid diffusivity may contribute to an intensification of the microseismic activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number02009
JournalE3S Web of Conferences
StatePublished - Nov 18 2020
Event2nd International Conference on Energy Geotechnics, ICEGT 2020 - La Jolla, United States
Duration: Sep 20 2020Sep 23 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Energy
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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