Large-scale dynamic hydrofracturing, healing and fracture network characterization

Varga-Vass, Anna (2015) Large-scale dynamic hydrofracturing, healing and fracture network characterization. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Permeability of a rock is a dynamic property that varies spatially and temporally. Fractures provide the most efficient channels for fluid flow and thus directly contribute to the permeability of the system. Fractures usually form as a result of a combination of tectonic stresses, gravity (i.e. lithostatic pressure) and fluid pressures. High pressure gradients alone can cause fracturing, the process which is termed as hydrofracturing that can determine caprock (seal) stability or reservoir integrity. Fluids also transport mass and heat, and are responsible for the formation of veins by precipitating minerals within open fractures. Veining (healing) thus directly influences the rock’s permeability. Upon deformation these closed factures (veins) can refracture and the cycle starts again. This fracturing-healing-refacturing cycle is a fundamental part in studying the deformation dynamics and permeability evolution of rock systems. This is generally accompanied by fracture network characterization focusing on network topology that determines network connectivity. Fracture characterization allows to acquire quantitative and qualitative data on fractures and forms an important part of reservoir modeling.

This thesis highlights the importance of fracture-healing and veins’ mechanical properties on the deformation dynamics. It shows that permeability varies spatially and temporally, and that healed systems (veined rocks) should not be treated as fractured systems (rocks without veins). Field observations also demonstrate the influence of contrasting mechanical properties, in addition to the complexities of vein microstructures that can form in low-porosity and permeability layered sequences. The thesis also presents graph theory as a characterization method to obtain statistical measures on evolving network connectivity. It also proposes what measures a good reservoir should have to exhibit potentially large permeability and robustness against healing.

The results presented in the thesis can have applications for hydrocarbon and geothermal reservoir exploration, mining industry, underground waste disposal, CO2 injection or groundwater modeling.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: fracturing, healing, veins, fracture network characterization, graph theory, numerical modeling, hydrofracturing.
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Earth Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Koehn, Dr. Daniel
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Mrs Anna Varga-Vass
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6846
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 31 May 2016 13:02
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2016 12:53

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