Geochemical Enhancement Of Enhanced Geothermal System Reservoirs: An Integrated Field And Geochemical Approach

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The geochemical effects of injecting fluids into geothermal reservoirs are poorly understood and may be significantly underestimated. Decreased performance of injection wells has been observed in several geothermal fields after only a few years of service, but the reasons for these declines has not been established. This study had three primary objectives: 1) determine the cause(s) of the loss of injectivity; 2) utilize these observations to constrain numerical models of water-rock interactions; and 3) develop injection strategies for mitigating and reversing the potential effects of these interactions. In this study rock samples from original and redrilled injection wells at Coso ... continued below

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Moore, Joseph N. December 31, 2007.

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Description

The geochemical effects of injecting fluids into geothermal reservoirs are poorly understood and may be significantly underestimated. Decreased performance of injection wells has been observed in several geothermal fields after only a few years of service, but the reasons for these declines has not been established. This study had three primary objectives: 1) determine the cause(s) of the loss of injectivity; 2) utilize these observations to constrain numerical models of water-rock interactions; and 3) develop injection strategies for mitigating and reversing the potential effects of these interactions. In this study rock samples from original and redrilled injection wells at Coso and the Salton Sea geothermal fields, CA, were used to characterize the mineral and geochemical changes that occurred as a result of injection. The study documented the presence of mineral scales and at both fields in the reservoir rocks adjacent to the injection wells. At the Salton Sea, the scales consist of alternating layers of fluorite and barite, accompanied by minor anhydrite, amorphous silica and copper arsenic sulfides. Amorphous silica and traces of calcite were deposited at Coso. The formation of silica scale at Coso provides an example of the effects of untreated (unacidified) injectate on the reservoir rocks. Scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffractometry were used to characterize the scale deposits. The silica scale in the reservoir rocks at Coso was initially deposited as spheres of opal-A 1-2 micrometers in diameter. As the deposits matured, the spheres coalesced to form larger spheres up to 10 micrometer in diameter. Further maturation and infilling of the spaces between spheres resulted in the formation of plates and sheets that substantially reduce the original porosity and permeability of the fractures. Peripheral to the silica deposits, fluid inclusions with high water/gas ratios provide a subtle record of interactions between the injectate and reservoir rocks. In contrast, fluid inclusions trapped prior to injection are relatively gas rich. These results suggest that the rocks undergo extensive microfracturing during injection and that the composition of the fluid inclusions will be biased toward the youngest event. Interactions between the reservoir rocks and injectate were modeled using the non-isothermal reactive geochemical transport code TOUGHREACT. Changes in fluid pH, fracture porosity, fracture permeability, fluid temperature, and mineral abundances were monitored. The simulations predict that amorphous silica will precipitate primarily within a few meters of the injection well and that mineral deposition will lead to rapid declines in fracture porosity and permeability, consistent with field observations. In support of Enhanced Geothermal System development, petrologic studies of Coso well 46A-19RD were conducted to determine the regions that are most likely to fail when stimulated. These studies indicate that the most intensely brecciated and altered rocks in the zone targeted for stimulation (below 10,000 ft (3048 m)) occur between 11,200 and 11,350 ft (3414 and 3459 m). This zone is interpreted as a shear zone that initially juxtaposed quartz diorite against granodiorite. Strong pervasive alteration and veining within the brecciated quartz diorite and granodiorite suggest this shear zone was permeable in the past. This zone of weakness was subsequently exploited by a granophyre dike whose top occurs at 11,350 ft (3459 m). The dike is unaltered. We anticipate, based on analysis of the well samples that failure during stimulation will most likely occur on this shear zone.

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  • Report No.: DOE/GO/14292
  • Grant Number: FG36-04GO14292
  • DOI: 10.2172/925498 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 925498
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc897031

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  • December 31, 2007

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  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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Moore, Joseph N. Geochemical Enhancement Of Enhanced Geothermal System Reservoirs: An Integrated Field And Geochemical Approach, report, December 31, 2007; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc897031/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.