Geophysical Properties of Hard Rock for Investigation of Stress Fields in Deep Mines

Monday, 15 December 2014
Maria Tibbo1, R Paul Young1, Douglas R Schmitt2 and Bernd Milkereit3, (1)University of Toronto, Physics, Toronto, ON, Canada, (2)University of Alberta, Physics, Edmonton, AB, Canada, (3)University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
A complication in geophysical monitoring of deep mines is the high-stress dependency of the physical properties of hard rocks. In-mine observations show anisotropic variability of the in situ P- and S-wave velocities and resistivity of the hard rocks that are likely related to stress field changes. As part of a comprehensive study in a deep, highly stressed mine located in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, data from in situ monitoring of the seismicity, conductivity, stress, and stress dependent physical properties has been obtain. In-laboratory experiments are also being performed on borehole cores from the Sudbury mines. These experiments will measure the Norite borehole core's properties including elastic modulus, bulk modulus, P- and S-wave velocities, and density. Hydraulic fracturing has been successfully implemented in industries such as oil and gas and enhanced geothermal systems, and is currently being investigated as a potential method for preconditioning in mining. However, further research is required to quantify how hydraulic fractures propagate through hard, unfractured rock as well as naturally fractured rock typically found in mines. These in laboratory experiments will contribute to a hydraulic fracturing project evaluating the feasibility and effectiveness of hydraulic fracturing as a method of de-stressing hard rock mines. A tri-axial deformation cell equipped with 18 Acoustic Emission (AE) sensors will be used to bring the borehole cores to a tri-axial state of stress. The cores will then be injected with fluid until the the hydraulic fracture has propagated to the edge of the core, while AE waveforms will be digitized continuously at 10 MHz and 12-bit resolution for the duration of each experiment. These laboratory hydraulic fracture experiments will contribute to understanding how parameters including stress ratio, fluid injection rate, and viscosity, affect the fracturing process.