Deterministic Discrete Fracture Network (DFN) Model for the EGS Collab Project on the 4850 Level of the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF)

EGS Collab Team

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The EGS Collab is conducting hydraulic fracture stimulation and fluid circulation experiments in the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) located in Lead, South Dakota. A total of eight ~60m-long subhorizontal boreholes were drilled from the 4850 Level (~1.5 km below the ground surface) into the crystalline rock of this former mine. Six of these holes are used for geophysical monitoring, one is used for hydraulic fracture stimulation, and the remaining hole was designed as a production borehole that receives water from the injection well via the induced and natural fracture system. The primary goal of creating the discrete fracture network model is to show that these modeling methods are critical for the development of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). This includes the prediction of rock behavior during fracturing and during an extended period of water flow between the parallel injection and production boreholes. Understanding the results from the induced fracturing and flow is complicated by the presence of significant natural fractures that interact with the stimulation and/or flow pathways. The delineation and characterization of natural fractures is thus an important part of the project, and therefore a model of the Discrete Fracture Network (DFN) was developed on a deterministic basis. The DFN was populated using observations and interpretations integrated from drift (horizontal passageways that allow access in the underground) fracture mapping, analysis of core recovered from the eight boreholes, borehole televiewer logs and videos, and observations of flow between and within boreholes and in the drift. The natural fracture system is dominated by a pervasive northwest-trending, steeply dipping shear system that is identifiable in the drifts and the core. Hydraulic fracture stimulation, flow/tracer circulation tests, and geophysical monitoring revealed that the behavior of the injected water, and perhaps the growth of induced fractures, has been significantly influenced by the existing fractures identified in the DFN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2020
Event54th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jun 28 2020Jul 1 2020


Conference54th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium
CityVirtual, Online

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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