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Title: Multiphase Fluid Flow in Deformable Variable-Aperture Fractures - Final Report

Fractures provide flow paths that can potentially lead to fast migration of fluids or contaminants. A number of energy-­related applications involve fluid injections that significantly perturb both the pressures and chemical composition of subsurface fluids. These perturbations can cause both mechanical deformation and chemical alteration of host rocks with potential for significant changes in permeability. In fractured rock subjected to coupled chemical and mechanical stresses, it can be difficult to predict the sign of permeability changes, let alone the magnitude. This project integrated experimental and computational studies to improve mechanistic understanding of these coupled processes and develop and test predictive models and monitoring techniques. The project involved three major components: (1) study of two-­phase flow processes involving mass transfer between phases and dissolution of minerals along fracture surfaces (Detwiler et al., 2009; Detwiler, 2010); (2) study of fracture dissolution in fractures subjected to normal stresses using experimental techniques (Ameli, et al., 2013; Elkhoury et al., 2013; Elkhoury et al., 2014) and newly developed computational models (Ameli, et al., 2014); (3) evaluation of electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) as a method to detect and quantify gas leakage through a fractured caprock (Breen et al., 2012; Lochbuhler et al., 2014). The project providedmore » support for one PhD student (Dr. Pasha Ameli; 2009-­2013) and partially supported a post-­doctoral scholar (Dr. Jean Elkhoury; 2010-­2013). In addition, the project provided supplemental funding to support collaboration with Dr. Charles Carrigan at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in connection with (3) and supported one MS student (Stephen Breen; 2011-­2013). Major results from each component of the project include the following: (1) Mineral dissolution in fractures occupied by two fluid phases (e.g., oil-­water or water-­CO{sub 2}) causes changes in local capillary forces and redistribution of fluids. These coupled processes enhance channel formation and the potential for development of fast flow paths through fractures. (2) Dissolution in fractures subjected to normal stress can result in behaviors ranging from development of dissolution channels and rapid permeability increases to fracture healing and significant permeability decreases. The timescales associated with advective transport of dissolved ions in the fracture, mineral dissolution rates, and diffusion within the adjacent porous matrix dictate the sign and magnitude of the resulting permeability changes. Furthermore, a high--resolution mechanistic model that couples elastic deformation of contacts and aperture-­dependent dissolution rates predicts the range of observed behaviors reasonably well. (3) ERT has potential as a tool for monitoring gas leakage in deep formations. Using probabilistic inversion methods further enhances the results by providing uncertainty estimates of inverted parameters.« less
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DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of California, Irvine, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States