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Title: Modeling of fault activation and seismicity by injection directly into a fault zone associated with hydraulic fracturing of shale-gas reservoirs

We conducted three-dimensional coupled fluid-flow and geomechanical modeling of fault activation and seismicity associated with hydraulic fracturing stimulation of a shale-gas reservoir. We simulated a case in which a horizontal injection well intersects a steeply dip- ping fault, with hydraulic fracturing channeled within the fault, during a 3-hour hydraulic fracturing stage. Consistent with field observations, the simulation results show that shale-gas hydraulic fracturing along faults does not likely induce seismic events that could be felt on the ground surface, but rather results in numerous small microseismic events, as well as aseismic deformations along with the fracture propagation. The calculated seismic moment magnitudes ranged from about -2.0 to 0.5, except for one case assuming a very brittle fault with low residual shear strength, for which the magnitude was 2.3, an event that would likely go unnoticed or might be barely felt by humans at its epicenter. The calculated moment magnitudes showed a dependency on injection depth and fault dip. We attribute such dependency to variation in shear stress on the fault plane and associated variation in stress drop upon reactivation. Our simulations showed that at the end of the 3-hour injection, the rupture zone associated with tensile and shear failure extendedmore » to a maximum radius of about 200 m from the injection well. The results of this modeling study for steeply dipping faults at 1000 to 2500 m depth is in agreement with earlier studies and field observations showing that it is very unlikely that activation of a fault by shale-gas hydraulic fracturing at great depth (thousands of meters) could cause felt seismicity or create a new flow path (through fault rupture) that could reach shallow groundwater resources.« less
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  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0920-4105; PII: S0920410515000200
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 127; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0920-4105
Research Org:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES; hydraulic fracturing, seismic, numerical simulation, fault zone,
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1249929