Simulation of Anisotropic Rock Damage for Geologic Fracturing

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Seth Busetti1, Hao Xu2 and Chloe F Arson2, (1)ConocoPhillips, Houston, TX, United States, (2)Georgia Institute of Technology Main Campus - GT, Atlanta, GA, United States
A continuum damage model for differential stress-induced anisotropic crack formation and stiffness degradation is used to study geologic fracturing in rocks. The finite element-based model solves for deformation in the quasi-linear elastic domain and determines the six component damage tensor at each deformation increment. The model permits an isotropic or anisotropic intact or pre-damaged reference state, and the elasticity tensor evolves depending on the stress path. The damage variable, similar to Oda’s fabric tensor, grows when the surface energy dissipated by three-dimensional opened cracks exceeds a threshold defined at the appropriate scale of the representative elementary volume (REV). At the laboratory or wellbore scale (<1m) brittle continuum damage reflects microcracking, grain boundary separation, grain crushing, or fine delamination, such as in shale. At outcrop (1m-100m), seismic (10m-1000m), and tectonic (>1000m) scales the damaged REV reflects early natural fracturing (background or tectonic fracturing) or shear strain localization (fault process zone, fault-tip damage, etc.). The numerical model was recently benchmarked against triaxial stress-strain data from laboratory rock mechanics tests. However, the utility of the model to predict geologic fabric such as natural fracturing in hydrocarbon reservoirs was not fully explored.

To test the ability of the model to predict geological fracturing, finite element simulations (Abaqus) of common geologic scenarios with known fracture patterns (borehole pressurization, folding, faulting) are simulated and the modeled damage tensor is compared against physical fracture observations. Simulated damage anisotropy is similar to that derived using fractured rock-mass upscaling techniques for pre-determined fracture patterns. This suggests that if model parameters are constrained with local data (e.g., lab, wellbore, or reservoir domain), forward modeling could be used to predict mechanical fabric at the relevant REV scale. This reference fabric also can be used as the starting material property to pre-condition subsequent deformation or fluid flow. Continuing efforts are to expand the present damage model to couple damage evolution with plasticity and with permeability for more geologically realistic simulation.