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Hydraulic conductivity of bedding-parallel cracks in shale as a function of shear and normal stress

By
Ernest H. Rutter
Ernest H. Rutter
Rock Deformation Laboratory, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
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Julian Mecklenburgh
Julian Mecklenburgh
Rock Deformation Laboratory, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
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Published:
January 01, 2017

Abstract

Conductivity of fluids along fractures in all rocks is reduced by increasing normal stress. For sandstones and other hard rocks the onset of shear failure along planar cracks is thought to enhance fluid flow owing to a small amount of dilatancy, yet such effects are poorly quantified. Here we determine experimentally how independently increasing normal and shear stress affects fluid flow along fractures in shale. Gas flow along bedding-parallel planar interfaces was measured for flow parallel and normal to the shear direction. Increasing shear stress causes accelerating reduction of conductivity, even before the onset of macroscopic slip. Such reduction in fluid flow rate is non-recoverable, and the combined effects of normal and shear stress can reduce fracture conductivity by more than 3 orders of magnitude over the range of shale reservoir conditions. Bedding plane-parallel slip is common in shales; it can result in a large enhancement of permeability anisotropy, because flow across bedding planes becomes inhibited. This can impact upon the geometry of developing hydraulic fractures, encouraging complexity and favouring lateral relative to vertical growth. The results will facilitate modelling of fluid flow through fracture networks.

Supplementary material: A CSV file containing all experimental conditions and tabulations of results is available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3721831.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Geomechanical and Petrophysical Properties of Mudrocks

E. H. Rutter
E. H. Rutter
University of Manchester, UK
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J. Mecklenburgh
J. Mecklenburgh
University of Manchester, UK
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K. Taylor
K. Taylor
University of Manchester, UK
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The Geological Society of London
Volume
454
ISBN electronic:
978-1-78620-335-9
Publication date:
January 01, 2017

GeoRef

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