The magnetotelluric (MT) method is introduced as a geophysical tool to monitor hydraulic fracturing of shale gas reservoirs and to help constrain how injected fluids propagate. The MT method measures the electrical resistivity of earth, which is altered by the injection of fracturing fluids. The degree to which these changes are measurable at the surface is determined by several factors, such as the conductivity and quantity of the fluid injected, the depth of the target interval, the existing pore fluid salinity, and a range of formation properties, such as porosity and permeability. From an MT monitoring survey of a shale gas hydraulic fracture in the Cooper Basin, South Australia, we have found temporal and spatial changes in MT responses above measurement error. Smooth inversions are used to compare the resistivity structure before and during hydraulic fracturing, with results showing increases in bulk conductivity of 20%–40% at a depth range coinciding with the horizontal fracture. Comparisons with microseismic data lead to the conclusion that these increases in bulk conductivity are caused by a combination of the injected fluid permeability and an increase in wider scale in situ fluid permeability.

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