Recent geothermal exploration indicated that the Cambrian Basal Sandstone Unit (BSU) in central Alberta could be a potential target formation for geothermal heat production, due to its depth and extent. Although several studies showed that the BSU in the shallower Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) has good reservoir properties, almost no information exists from the deeper WCSB. This study investigated the petrography of the BSU in central Alberta with help of drill cores and thin sections from six wells. Porosity and permeability as important reservoir parameters for geothermal utilization were determined by core testing. The average porosity and permeability of the BSU is 10% and <1×10−14 m2, respectively. A zone of high porosity and permeability was identified in a well located in the northern part of the study area. This study presents the first published geomechanical tests of the BSU, which were obtained as input parameters for the simulation of hydraulic stimulation treatments. The BSU has a relatively high unconfined compressive strength (up to 97.7 MPa), high cohesion (up to 69.8 MPa), and a remarkably high friction coefficient (up to 1.22), despite a rather low tensile strength (<5 MPa). An average geothermal gradient of 35.6 °C/km was calculated from about 2000 temperature values. The temperature in the BSU ranges from 65 to 120 °C. Results of this study confirm that the BSU is a potential geothermal target formation, though hydraulic stimulation treatments are required to increase the permeability of the reservoir.

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