Field Evidence for a Low Permeability, High Storage Fault Core at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory

Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Vincent Allègre, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, United States
In situ measurements of hydrogeologic properties within fault zones are few, in part because of the challenges of measuring the scale-dependent quantities in fractured rock reservoirs. This work aims to fill the gap by utilizing a combination of tidal, barometric and seismic response analyses on pressure head time-series from the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Southern California. The techniques sample different effective volumes and so allow us to investigate the scale-dependent structure near fault zones. Permeability and specific storage were inverted from tidal response at 14 locations, and specific storage was also computed from barometric efficiencies at 10 locations. In addition, we computed hydro-seismic transfer functions after nine local earthquakes and teleseismic events. We found that permeability computed from tidal response are quite homogeneous within about one and a half orders of magnitude over the site regardless of the presence of moderate to large faults. This result is consistent with the earlier aquifer tests using standard methods. The tidal responses also showed higher variability of specific storage inside the fault zones suggesting that fault damage zone generates a storage architecture. The storage from the tidal responses can be consistently interpreted for the tidal, barometric and seismic responses. However, the observations require that the permeability inside the fault zones at the spatial scale of the seismic response (~meters) is much lower than at the spatial scale of the tidal response (~10's of meters). The result suggests possible sensitivity to the low permeability fault core, which has been historically difficult to measure at the field scale.