Chemical Signatures of and Precursors to Fractures Using Fluid Inclusion Stratigraphy

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Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) are designed to recover heat from the subsurface by mechanically creating fractures in subsurface rocks. Open or recently closed fractures would be more susceptible to enhancing the permeability of the system. Identifying dense fracture areas as well as large open fractures from small fracture systems will assist in fracture stimulation site selection. Geothermal systems are constantly generating fractures (Moore, Morrow et al. 1987), and fluids and gases passing through rocks in these systems leave small fluid and gas samples trapped in healed microfractures. These fluid inclusions are faithful records of pore fluid chemistry. Fluid inclusions trapped ... continued below

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Dilley, Lorie M. March 30, 2011.

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Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) are designed to recover heat from the subsurface by mechanically creating fractures in subsurface rocks. Open or recently closed fractures would be more susceptible to enhancing the permeability of the system. Identifying dense fracture areas as well as large open fractures from small fracture systems will assist in fracture stimulation site selection. Geothermal systems are constantly generating fractures (Moore, Morrow et al. 1987), and fluids and gases passing through rocks in these systems leave small fluid and gas samples trapped in healed microfractures. These fluid inclusions are faithful records of pore fluid chemistry. Fluid inclusions trapped in minerals as the fractures heal are characteristic of the fluids that formed them, and this signature can be seen in fluid inclusion gas analysis. This report presents the results of the project to determine fracture locations by the chemical signatures from gas analysis of fluid inclusions. With this project we hope to test our assumptions that gas chemistry can distinguish if the fractures are open and bearing production fluids or represent prior active fractures and whether there are chemical signs of open fracture systems in the wall rock above the fracture. Fluid Inclusion Stratigraphy (FIS) is a method developed for the geothermal industry which applies the mass quantification of fluid inclusion gas data from drill cuttings and applying known gas ratios and compositions to determine depth profiles of fluid barriers in a modern geothermal system (Dilley, 2009; Dilley et al., 2005; Norman et al., 2005). Identifying key gas signatures associated with fractures for isolating geothermal fluid production is the latest advancement in the application of FIS to geothermal systems (Dilley and Norman, 2005; Dilley and Norman, 2007). Our hypothesis is that peaks in FIS data are related to location of fractures. Previous work (DOE Grant DE-FG36-06GO16057) has indicated differences in the chemical signature of fluid inclusions between open and closed fractures as well as differences in the chemical signature of open fractures between geothermal systems. Our hypothesis is that open fracture systems can be identified by their FIS chemical signature; that there are differences based on the mineral assemblages and geology of the system; and that there are chemical precursors in the wall rock above open, large fractures. Specific goals for this project are: (1) To build on the preliminary results which indicate that there are differences in the FIS signatures between open and closed fractures by identifying which chemical species indicate open fractures in both active geothermal systems and in hot, dry rock; (2) To evaluate the FIS signatures based on the geology of the fields; (3) To evaluate the FIS signatures based on the mineral assemblages in the fracture; and (4) To determine if there are specific chemical signatures in the wall rock above open, large fractures. This method promises to lower the cost of geothermal energy production in several ways. Knowledge of productive fractures in the boreholes will allow engineers to optimize well production. This information can aid in well testing decisions, well completion strategies, and in resource calculations. It will assist in determining the areas for future fracture enhancement. This will develop into one of the techniques in the 'tool bag' for creating and managing Enhanced Geothermal Systems.

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  • Report No.: DOEGO18188-2
  • Grant Number: FG36-08GO18188
  • DOI: 10.2172/1010306 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1010306
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc833496

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  • March 30, 2011

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Nov. 22, 2016, 10:26 p.m.

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Dilley, Lorie M. Chemical Signatures of and Precursors to Fractures Using Fluid Inclusion Stratigraphy, report, March 30, 2011; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc833496/: accessed May 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.