Physical Properties of Granulates Used in Analogue Experiments of Caprock Failure and Sediment Remobilisation

Monday, 15 December 2014
Michael Warsitzka1, Nina Kukowski1 and Franz May2, (1)Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Institute of Geosciences, Jena, Germany, (2)Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Hannover, Germany
Geological systems consisting of a porous reservoir and a low-permeable caprock are prone to hydraulic fracturing, if pore pressure rises to the effective stress. Under certain conditions, hydraulic fracturing is associated with sediment remobilisation, e.g. sand injections or pipes, leading to reduced seal capacity of the caprock. In dynamically scaled analogue experiments using granular materials and air pressure, we intent to investigate strain patterns and deformation mechanisms during caprock failure and fluidisation of shallow over-pressured reservoirs. The aim of this study is to improve the understanding of leakage potential of a sealing formation and the fluidisation potential of a reservoir formation depending on rock properties and effective stress.

For reliable interpretation of analogue experiments, physical properties of analogue materials, e.g. frictional strength, cohesion, density, permeability etc., have to be correctly scaled according to those of their natural equivalents. The simulation of caprock requires that the analogue material possess a low permeability and is capable to shear failure and tensional failure. In contrast, materials representing the reservoir have to possess high porosity and low shear strength.

In order to find suitable analogue materials, we measured the stress-strain behaviour and the permeability of over 25 different types of natural and artificial granular materials, e.g. glass powder, siliceous microspheres, diatomite powder, loess, or plastic granulate. Here, we present data of frictional parameters, compressibility and permeability of these granular materials characterized as a function of sphericity, grain size, and density. The repertoire of different types of granulates facilitates the adjustment of accurate mechanical properties in the analogue experiments. Furthermore, conditions during seal failure and fluidisation can be examined depending on the wide range of varying physical properties.