Fracturing and Porosity Channeling in Fluid Overpressure Zones in the Shallow Earth's Crust

Köhn D, Piazolo S, Sachau T, Toussaint R (2020)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2020


Book Volume: 2020

DOI: 10.1155/2020/7621759


At the time of energy transition, it is important to be able to predict the effects of fluid overpressures in different geological scenarios as these can lead to the development of hydrofractures and dilating high-porosity zones. In order to develop an understanding of the complexity of the resulting effective stress fields, fracture and failure patterns, and potential fluid drainage, we study the process with a dynamic hydromechanical numerical model. The model simulates the evolution of fluid pressure buildup, fracturing, and the dynamic interaction between solid and fluid. Three different scenarios are explored: fluid pressure buildup in a sedimentary basin, in a vertical zone, and in a horizontal layer that may be partly offset by a fault. Our results show that the geometry of the area where fluid pressure is successively increased has a first-order control on the developing pattern of porosity changes, on fracturing, and on the absolute fluid pressures that sustained without failure. If the fluid overpressure develops in the whole model, the effective differential and mean stress approach zero and the vertical and horizontal effective principal stresses flip in orientation. The resulting fractures develop under high lithostatic fluid overpressure and are aligned semihorizontally, and consequently, a hydraulic breccia forms. If the area of high fluid pressure buildup is confined in a vertical zone, the effective mean stress decreases while the differential stress remains almost constant and failure takes place in extensional and shear modes at a much lower fluid overpressure. A horizontal fluid pressurized layer that is offset shows a complex system of effective stress evolution with the layer fracturing initially at the location of the offset followed by hydraulic breccia development within the layer. All simulations show a phase transition in the porosity where an initially random porosity reduces its symmetry and forms a static porosity wave with an internal dilating zone and the presence of dynamic porosity channels within this zone. Our results show that patterns of fractures, hence fluid release, that form due to high fluid overpressures can only be successfully predicted if the geometry of the geological system is known, including the fluid overpressure source and the position of seals and faults that offset source layers and seals.

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Köhn, D., Piazolo, S., Sachau, T., & Toussaint, R. (2020). Fracturing and Porosity Channeling in Fluid Overpressure Zones in the Shallow Earth's Crust. Geofluids, 2020.


Köhn, Daniel, et al. "Fracturing and Porosity Channeling in Fluid Overpressure Zones in the Shallow Earth's Crust." Geofluids 2020 (2020).

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