ABSTRACT

Realization of enhanced geothermal systems (EGSs) prescribes the need for novel methods to monitor subsurface fracture connectivity and fluid distribution. Magnetotellurics (MT) is a passive electromagnetic (EM) method sensitive to electrical conductivity contrasts as a function of depth, specifically hot saline fluids in a resistive porous media. In July 2011, an EGS fluid injection at 3.6-km depth near Paralana, South Australia, was monitored by comparing repeated MT surveys before and after hydraulic stimulation. An observable coherent change above measurement error in the MT response was present and causal, in that variations in phase predict variations in apparent resistivity. Phase tensor residuals proved the most useful representation for characterizing alterations in subsurface resistivity structure, whereas resistivity tensor residuals aided in determining the sign and amplitude of resistivity variations. These two tensor representations of the residual MT response suggested fluids migrated toward the northeast of the injection well along an existing fault system trending north-northeast. Forward modeling and concurrent microseismic data support these results, although microseismic data suggest fractures opened along two existing fracture networks trending north-northeast and northeast. This exemplifies the need to use EM methods for monitoring fluid injections due to their sensitivity to conductivity contrasts.

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