Using in-situ strain measurements to evaluate the accuracy of stress estimation procedures from fracture injection/shut-in tests

The EGS Collab Team

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Fracture injection/shut-in tests are commonly used to measure the state of stress in the subsurface. Injection creates a hydraulic fracture (or in some cases, opens a preexisting fracture), and then the pressure after shut-in is monitored to identify fracture closure. Different interpretation procedures have been proposed for estimating closure, and the procedures sometimes yield significantly different results. In this study, direct, in-situ strain measurements are used to observe fracture reopening and closure. The tests were performed as part of the EGS Collab project, a mesoscale project performed at 1.25 and 1.5 km depth at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. The tests were instrumented with the SIMFIP tool, a double-packer probe with a high-resolution three-dimensional borehole displacement sensor. The measurements provide a direct observation of the fracture closure signature, enabling a high-fidelity estimate of the fracture closure stress (ie, the normal stress on the fracture). In two of the four tests, injection created an opening mode fracture, and so the closure stress can be interpreted as the minimum principal stress. In the other two tests, injection probably opened preexisting natural fractures, and so the closure stress can be interpreted as the normal stress on the fractures. The strain measurements are compared against different proposed methods for estimating closure stress from pressure transients. The shut-in transients are analyzed with two techniques that are widely used in the field of petroleum engineering – the ‘tangent’ method and the ‘compliance’ method. In three of the four tests, the tangent method significantly underestimates the closure stress. The compliance method is reasonably accurate in all four tests. Closure stress is also interpreted using two other commonly-used methods – ‘first deviation from linearity’ and the method of (Hayashi and Haimson, 1991). In comparison with the SIMFIP data, these methods tend to overestimate the closure stress, evidently because they identify closure from early-time transient effects, such as near-wellbore tortuosity. In two of the tests, microseismic imaging provides an independent estimate of the size of the fracture created by injection. When combined with a simple mass balance calculation, the SIMFIP stress measurements yield predictions of fracture size that are reasonably consistent with the estimates from microseismic. The calculations imply an apparent fracture toughness 2-3x higher than typical laboratory-derived values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105521
JournalInternational Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences
StatePublished - Oct 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology

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