Estimating the Reactivation Potential of Pre-Existing Fractures in Subsurface Granitoids from Outcrop Analogues and in-Situ Stress Modeling: Implications for EGS Reservoir Stimulation with an Example from Thuringia (Central Germany)
Abstract:The Mid-German Crystalline Rise (MGCR) in Thuringia (central Germany) is part of the European Variscan orogen and hosts large extents of Visean granites (c. 350 Ma), locally overlain by up to 3 km of Early Permian to Mid-Triassic volcanic and sedimentary rocks. A geothermal gradient of 36°C km-1 suggests that such subsurface granites form an economically viable hot dry rock reservoir at > 4 km depth. In order to assess the likelihood of reactivating any pre-existing fractures during hydraulic reservoir stimulation, slip and dilation tendency analyses (Morris et al. 1996) were carried out. For this purpose, we determined orientations of pre-existing fractures in 14 granite exposures along the southern border fault of an MGCR basement high. Additionally, the strike of 192 Permian magmatic dikes affecting the granite was considered. This analysis revealed a prevalence of NW-SE-striking fractures (mainly joints, extension veins, dikes and subordinately brittle faults) with a maximum at 030/70 (dip azimuth/dip).
Borehole data and earthquake focal mechanisms reveal a maximum horizontal stress SHmax trending N150°E and a strike-slip regime. Effective in-situ stress magnitudes at 4.5 km depth, assuming hydrostatic conditions and frictional equilibrium along pre-existing fractures with a friction coefficient of 0.85 yielded 230 and 110 MPa for SHmax and Shmin, respectively. In this stress field, fractures with the prevailing orientations show a high tendency of becoming reactivated as dextral strike-slip faults if stimulated hydraulically. To ensure that a stimulation well creates fluid connectivity on a reservoir volume as large as possible rather than dissipating fluids along existing fractures, it should follow a trajectory at the highest possible angle to the orientation of prevailing fractures, i.e. subhorizontal and NE-SW-oriented.
Morris, A., D. A. Ferrill, and D. B. Henderson (1996), Slip-tendency analysis and fault reactivation, Geology, 24, 275-278.