Rupture Dynamics and Scaling Behavior of Hydraulically Stimulated Micro-Earthquakes in a Shale Reservoir

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Gisela Fernandes Viegas, Ted Urbancic and Adam M Baig, Engineering Seismology Group Canada Inc, Kingston, ON, Canada
In hydraulic fracturing completion programs fluids are injected under pressure into fractured rock formations to open escape pathways for trapped hydrocarbons along pre-existing and newly generated fractures. To characterize the failure process, we estimate static and dynamic source and rupture parameters, such as dynamic and static stress drop, radiated energy, seismic efficiency, failure modes, failure plane orientations and dimensions, and rupture velocity to investigate the rupture dynamics and scaling relations of micro-earthquakes induced during a hydraulic fracturing shale completion program in NE British Columbia, Canada. The relationships between the different parameters combined with the in-situ stress field and rock properties provide valuable information on the rupture process giving insights into the generation and development of the fracture network. Approximately 30,000 micro-earthquakes were recorded using three multi-sensor arrays of high frequency geophones temporarily placed close to the treatment area at reservoir depth (~2km). On average the events have low radiated energy, low dynamic stress and low seismic efficiency, consistent with the obtained slow rupture velocities. Events fail in overshoot mode (slip weakening failure model), with fluids lubricating faults and decreasing friction resistance. Events occurring in deeper formations tend to have faster rupture velocities and are more efficient in radiating energy. Variations in rupture velocity tend to correlate with variation in depth, fault azimuth and elapsed time, reflecting a dominance of the local stress field over other factors. Several regions with different characteristic failure modes are identifiable based on coherent stress drop, seismic efficiency, rupture velocities and fracture orientations. Variations of source parameters with rock rheology and hydro-fracture fluids are also observed. Our results suggest that the spatial and temporal distribution of events with similar characteristic rupture behaviors can be used to determine reservoir geophysical properties, constrain reservoir geo-mechanical models, classify dynamic rupture processes for fracture models and improve fracture treatment designs.